Farming e-Sports…You Read That Right Folks

There is a new contender in the eSports arena, as GIANTS software announced they would be hosting a second season of their Farming Simulator Championship within it’s own league. According to their website, there will be ten tournaments held in Europe. The competition follows these rules, “…each team has a maximum of 8 minutes to press 20 bales of straw and load them onto a bale cart in the middle of the field. The team that has loaded the 20 bales in the shortest time wins.” outlined in their May 25th, 2018 announcement for their first tournament.

While this game may not reflect the mainstream of gaming, it does demonstrate the power of community. This game found support from its fans to build and promote a series that they enjoy. This is just more proof that with the support of a community, any game has the chance to expand; and with the popularity of eSports, any franchise has the opportunity to be celebrated with their own league. With eSports gaining more sponsors and traction as it goes, we may see a rise in less traditional competitive games.

Spider-Man: Far From Home Trailer & Poster Is Here!

Early on yesterday, a trailer for the next entry in Marvel’s Spider-Man run has dropped.  Supposedly taking place after Avengers Infinity War, we see Peter Parker (played by actor Tom Holland) handling his new role as Spider-Man, having the support of Aunt May (Actress Marisa Tomei), and getting ready to go on a school trip to Europe.

Everything seems very upbeat and life is going great until a dart flies from the darkness, Ned’s body hits the floor, and Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) appears to let us know this is still a super hero movie. A tone shift in the trailer takes us into the apparent main plot, having Fury recruiting Peter to help with some strange occurrences happening across Europe.

This trailer was brilliant, having the layer showing the progress of Peter’s life, to the transition of being Spider-Man overseas, and then right when you think the trailer is going to end with the release date? We get the silver screen debut of Mysterio (played by actor Jake Gyllenhaal), one of Spidey’s more well known villains.

From the nod to Steve Ditko’s black and red Spidey design (which may also be a slight nod to assassin Spider-Man), to the enemies that seem to be popping up for this film, there seems to be a lot to love and it is only the trailer.

Returning actors and actresses joining Holland, Tomei, Jackson, and Gyllenhaal are Zendaya, Combie Smulders, Jon Favreau, Jacob Batalon, Martin Starr, and Michael Keaton.

spider man far frome home teaser poster

Spider-Man: Far From Home is set to debut this summer on July 5th 2019.

A Katamari by Any Other Name

With the King of the Cosmos under some strange influence all the stars in the sky have been destroyed, and it is his son’s (The Prince) job to fix everything!

Almost fifteen years passing since the original release on the PlayStation 2, Katamari Damacy gets an HD re-release on the Nintendo Switch. While this won’t be Katamari’s first console change, it will be the first time on Nintendo’s main console. Reroll is available in both physical and digital forms with a launch price of $29.99 USD plus tax.

Most notable is the update to the graphics; a full HD makeover was given not only to in-game graphics, but to all the cut scenes as well. There is a bit more roundness to some characters, as the Prince seems less edgy in better resolution, but retains some familiar jerky motions while adding more vibrant lush colors.

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The controls are usable and by no means inhibit game play from the original. However, they feel a bit less coordinated having smaller knobs and they are separated considerably more than when the original concept was conceived. Having the Joy-Cons free of the console seems to be the way to go unless the pro controller is available, which handles a little closer to the original game. A two-player mode is also available in split screen versus, and a local co-op mode that unfortunately I did not try.

As far as game play goes, it’s the original map out. Notable features, such as the ability to jump, that became popular in some of the sequels aren’t present. This could be to keep the levels a challenge as they were originally meant to be challenged, but it did take some adjustment not having a jump and a less forgiving speed roll.

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Listening to the game was a joy as always, with the game’s distinct soundtrack along with its charmingly quirky sound effects, Katamari ReRoll is a game that absolutely must be played with the original music. Every stage the track can start off as a relaxing start to a round and adding to the frantic disposition of only being only a few cm short while the timer ticks down to the limit.

The only disappoint with audio was a personal one, as there is no option to have the side videos in English like they were on the PlayStation release. Although I fully support exposure to the Japanese culture that inspired this gem of a game, the original English dubs were hilarious to listen to, and I wish there was an option to turn them on.

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Conclusively, this game is a gem even fourteen years after its launch. With a low price for a HD re-release of a gem with good replay-ability, this game is a great grab for either fans of the series or newcomers looking for a relaxing and quirky game.

Pros:
-The updates are an eye to behold.
-It feels right to have this title on the Switch.

Cons:
-Slightly inferior control handling.
-Missing features from other sequels may take a small adjustment from those who haven’t played the original in a while.

Final Score: 4 out of 5

The Pros and Cons of 2018

With the year winding down and just a few weeks left (still plenty of time for more surprises to be fair) let’s look at some of the notable events that occurred this year.


Gaming

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Pros:

Red Dead Redemption 2: A world that not only meets the status quo of Rockstar, but exceeds it with the amount of detail, depth of story, and seemingly endless hours of game play (with online still on the way).

Synchronizing online play: Despite some disputes on how it will all work, there has been a rise in cross-platform online play. While Fortnite is currently the only game to work across all platforms, Rocket League, Minecraft, and Hover are examples of games that play with more than the platform you may own them on.

With Microsoft supporting purchases across PC and Xbox with their play anywhere initiative, it looks to be a positive future regardless of your platform of choice.

SSBU: Possibly the final entry in the series (at least with Masahiro Sakari at the helm), this game delivers every single good thing you’ve experienced in a Smash Bros game and then some.  Touting an epic proportioned story mode and the largest cast of fighters yet, this is a must grab for any Switch owner out there.

Spider-Man: Although this is only for the PS4, when a Spider-man game is good, it’s great! Everything you could hope for in a sandbox superhero game and a bit more.

Cons:

Tell Tale: The company hit it big years ago with their Walking Dead series and came out with some promising titles after including their takes on Minecraft, Batman, and Game of Thrones. However, their lack of game play variation and poor management saw a very ugly end to the company.

Fall Out 76: This game was either going to be a hit or a miss.  Unfortunately, the launch was a huge miss.  Between the messy BETA, the amount of glitches, and the over reliance of multiplayer to compensate for the lack of story and NPC’s, the launch has been messy to say the least. It’s now lead many players to wait until Bethesda can provide more incentive to dive into their new Fall Out experiment.


Music

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Pros:

Honestly, this has been a great year for music in this writer’s opinion.  With releases like Kid Cudi’s Kids See Ghost,Anderson Paak’s Oxnard, Pusha T’s Daytona, Idles Joy as an Act of Resistance, Portal’s Ion, Sophie’s Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides, Kanye’s Ye, and Brockhampton’s Iridescence to name a few album titles there was really at least two albums in most genres this year that were great to amazing to listen to.

Cons:

The cons aren’t long in length, aside from some inflated drama with celebrities, the biggest hits came in those who passed in 2018.  One of the most tragic losses being that of Mac Miller who passed away due to an accidental overdose. Mac Miller’s untimely passing was felt by many, and his positive influence on the world will be missed even by those who never got the chance to meet him.


Cinema and Showtime

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Pros:

Marvel, hands down the current king on the super hero genre and Infinity War was a true epic to everything that had come before, with more to come this next year.  Worth catching in the theaters and a fresh take on the whole Avengers formula.

Broly is coming, again.  With the mixed success of Dragon Ball Super, a new movie is on its way and while it has yet to hit, the impact of the trailers alone is palpable and is promising an anime movie release to rival that of the Pokémon franchise.

Whether it’s via broadcast or streaming service, television shows may be at its peak right now.  The only real problem is there may be too much worthwhile content.  It’s hard to keep up with things on Netflix, Hulu, and network shows from Fox, NBC, Showtime and so on.

With a controversial split between Marvel and Guardians of the Galaxy’s director James Gunn, Warner Bros. wasted no time in penning Gunn as the new director of the sequel to Suicide Squad. One of the silver linings of the fall out is the sequel to one of DC’s bigger disappointments is getting a promising upgrade in direction.

Cons:

Marvel is also on the con side of things.  The whole franchise is huge and has plans to keep growing, but the burn out can be felt by some casual movie goers and fans alike.

To bookend the Marvel expansion issue, is the seeming end of the Netflix Marvel universe with the end of Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Daredevil, all announced this year.  It’s not too surprising considering Disney is now going forward with their own streaming service, but is still a blow to those that enjoyed what some of these series offered on the service.

YouTube may not be considered a television or movie source (at least not legally), but it is becoming harder for new content creators to be interested in coming to the site. YouTube’s ability to pay its creators has been coming under repeated scrutiny over the past few years it does not seem to be heading for a positive resolution, especially with the EU’s Article 13 (see more here). There is some worry about any appeal to this platform’s future.


Conclusion

All in all it has been an eventful year yet again in all types of ways. We had so much to be thankful for with new groud breaking in all areas of pop culture. The bad always comes with the good and it can only be taken in stride as we continue to see and enjoy the  innovation in what we as consumers enjoy so much. We can only hope for more of the good (without more of the bad) as 2019 quickly approaches. So lets say a so long to 2018 and embrace the new year with open arms.

Embrace the New Year and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for the latest news @tehlunchboxpub!

Mighty Morphing Batman: A Batman Ninja Review

Trailers for Batman Ninja had started spreading early 2018 for the movie produced by Warner Bros. studio. Kazuki Nakashima and Takashi Okazaki were contacted for the story and character design respectively.*  With each having success in previous outings and making landmark pieces in anime, it seemed like a great experience waiting to happen. Perhaps it is for the Japanese version, but I’m reviewing the English version since I’m interested in how well they can localize such a fusion of American pop culture and the style of anime.


Visuals

The visuals are amazing, as to be expected from Afro Samurai’s Takeshi Okazaki.  With beautiful animation and visually eye-catching designs, the colors work well against the cell shading resulting in some very good and sometimes interesting moments.  None of the designs stray far enough from their character origins to be unrecognizable, (save Jason Todd) but still remind you what time period the story is in. Continue reading

Raging Bethesda

bethesda-e3-2018Bethesda, one of the most well-known gaming companies in 2018 has come to E3 for their fourth showcase.  If E3 were a game of poker among these game developers, then Bethesda just showed their hand, and it seems like a high-end full house.  Starting the night off with an opening from Andrew W.K performing Ready to Die while leading into the RAGE 2 demonstration. Continue reading

Fighting Familiar Puzzles

 

I need to start this review with a warning, this game is meant to be addictive and does have gambling elements to it. If you are aware of being susceptible to any form of gambling or have issues spending money in-game to the point it impacts your everyday life; then please turn away now. I am not putting this here as a slight against Puzzle Fighter alone, but this cash grab model that is in most of the mobile games out there. I would feel disingenuous without giving attention to this aspect of the game.


Puzzle Fighter from Capcom, has been one of the bigger puzzle games in history. Nothing too special about it, it is a Tetris-style game with exploding gems instead of pre-shaped blocks, break the blocks down to attack your opponent and first one to cause their opponent to overstack wins. This game gained fandom by featuring Pocket Fighter renditions of Street Fighter and Dark Stalkers characters as playable avatars just clicked.

The game has been re-released and has had some slight tweaks to gameplay since its original PlayStation release. Some of them consist of it includes being available for download on the Playstation Store (PS3) and Xbox Marketplace (360). However, the mobile release now features 3D character models and a roster expanding with more Capcom characters such as Viewtiful Joe, Dante, Nash, and Phoenix Wright.


GamePlay Change

With it being a mobile game you obviously can’t have matches going on too long, and I think that this aspect of the game is pretty interesting. With the inclusion of health bars you need to cause enough damage through breaking chains of gems, as well as combine larger gems to accumulate enough damage to defeat your opponent. Also, destroying enough gems will build your special bar which will allow you to perform a single press Super Attack that deals direct damage to your opponent. And to keep your opponents guessing, the moves your avatar performs can be changed out to perform more damage or cause status changes to make the matches a bit more strategic and dynamic. To top all of that off, you play with a team of 3 and their affinities and assists will help to add wrinkles to your gameplay style.

Gameplay isn’t flawless though. A level up system has been added, along with a card collecting aspect to level up your avatars and their moves. However, unlocking characters seems to be done so by pure luck. To add to that, you have to rank up to gain access for the chance to unlock a new character at random. All of these aspects are built in as a clear attempt to make the game pay to play. Annnnd, it kinda does?


Randomizing

There is a level of excitement to be had in getting something at random. It makes getting the thing you want feel more significant than if you could just purchase it (hopefully with in game currency), but the game has so many randomized elements it grows tiring really quickly. You see, part of the appeal of this franchise is playing as your favorite character and playing with your skill to compete or just play a quick mindless game. When the player has to worry about leveling up their character constantly to stay relevant or have to use characters they do not want to in the hopes of unlocking MegaMan X through ranking up it lessens the experience. Winning enough boats and chests, or paying for an in game loot-box(chest) that will guarantee a character and some random cards and in game coins doesn’t seem very exciting either. To add frustration to anxiety, in order to upgrade a character; not only must an increasing amount of cards be collected to keep level up a character’s moveset, an in game currency is required to upgrade those moves. The standard pay out of these items is definitely tipped to make you either grind to unlock what you want, or cave and pay to be the best.

Really there is just too much randomized chance in this game and not enough player choice. If you have a friend or look online for people to post their ID Names to add them, you can choose to play with someone from your friend list if they are online as well, but the search option isn’t a search option. You’d need to know the exact ID to add someone and cannot search for active players. The Rank up matches would be your only access to other players online. And since winning those matches comes with prizes, that would most likely be the best option for a quick player vs player match.

To be completely fair, there are some milestone chests that can be unlocked through doing daily missions, playing the mission matches, and playing lots of PvP ranked games. Season and Mid-Season chests given to every player to which the contents vary depending on the player’s rank which break up the monotony. And there’s also a fair amount of drops for every kind of item in the game that makes it feel a bit fair. The high spikes in costs for items however, (you’ll start hitting them around level 6 for most characters) quickly unbalances the game with level caps at 15.


Satisfaction

The gameplay itself stays true to the series. Customizable characters, an expanded roster help a lot. And the addition of supers as well as a health based win system feels different in a good way. However, it’s slowed down by the money grab being done by Capcom with the game’s grind/pay to play nature. I still enjoy having a game or two if it’s just for a couple of minutes and if I am worried about my connection, I can do a mission for a for sure quick uninterrupted game. On a side note, I’d recommend this on tablet over the phone, as interruptions can ruin some PvP matches.

For those who do not like the changes, there are occasional classic style events where you can win up to 12 matches, but if you lose more than 3 you are out. I really like the set up of these tournaments, and while every player has their character set to max level to even the playing field, you are still limited to characters and moves you have already unlocked. But it is an event so it is not always available.


Final Thoughts

The game itself is good for a quick match every now and then. I turn off the notifications and just play it when I have an itch. If you have friends that are into this game it’ll be fun to play with them from time to time, and the gameplay is enjoyable, just some of the mechanics are broken purely for greed.


Recommends

Honestly, I think this game shouldn’t be free. I would have been willing to pay mabey $3-$5(?) for a complete offline mode of this game to really enjoy quick matches on the go with optional online features. I’d also either remove the level up system or make it less of a hassle to do. I wouldn’t even have everything unlocked right away either.

Bring back in-game unlockables. I mean, there’s no better feeling than pulling off a combo, or beating a certain opponent, or completing a character’s arcade mode run. Then there’s the added bonus of getting a reward in the form of a new character or a secret special move. Unlocakbles don’t need to be insane to achieve, and I’m sure there would be people to double their payment to unlock everything. But honestly, both those ideas beat the all to common loot box scheme going on everywhere else.


Pros:

Updated gameplay that stays faithful to the series
Large cast of characters (Still expanding as of the writing of this article)
Strategic layers
Easy to pick up and put down

Cons:

Pay to win
Limited Player Choice at first
Hard to make friends in-game
3D models (This is my preference, but the 2D models from previous entries are superior)


Riley R. is a contributing writer for Teh Lunchbox Publications! For all your news, up to date information, previews, and reviews on the entertainment world, keep it here on tehlunchboxpub.wordpress.com and LIKE and FOLLOW us on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitch!