Jul 28, 2010

Red VS Blue: First Five Seasons on DVD

By Jeff Alyanak

You’ve probably have never heard of the Academy of Machinima Arts & Sciences. Heck, you may not even know what Machinima is, but using real-time graphics engines - most often those found in video games - to create CGI scenes has been a filmmaking technique since 1996’s Diary of a Camper (and probably earlier). United Ranger Films “shot” the entire film using the Quake engine and distributed it widely, though the reception wasn’t very good.

Fast forward 7 years to the Internet release of Red vs. Blue’s first episode. Then fast forward one more day. Red vs. Blue had been downloaded by 20,000 people. Within a year, they had garnered Bungie’s blessings and nearly 1,000,000 hits a week. The show itself - for those few of you who haven’t seen it - is a sci-fi comedy set in the world of Bungie’s Halo: Combat Evolved game. However, the writers have taken some...liberties...with their storyline. The series is a total riot and it’ll be funny to you even if you’ve never played the Halo games - and there are plenty of fans out there who aren’t big Halo nerds.

Well, way back then I was one of those fans, watching from almost day one. Okay, I got into it around episode 3 or 4 - but still, for a show that ran 100 episodes in length that’s pretty much day one. Red vs. Blue’s creators, Rooster Teeth Productions, have been a long time staple at gaming conventions peddling their wares. I’ve seen them many times selling shirts, DVDs, and pins. However, I was always hesitant to buy the DVDs, because I wasn’t sure if I was willing to shell out for so many seasons. However, Rooster Teeth has a great solution.

They’ve now released the Red vs Blue: First Five Seasons Remastered Edition Box Set and boy is it loaded with value. It’s got over 250 episodes, videos and extras. The bonus content alone puts any commercial DVD release to shame with alternate endings, PSAs, and documentary footage practically bursting forth. Even cooler is the fact that the early seasons have been remastered and look better than ever.

If you’re looking to pick up the DVD, check it out at the RvB web store. It’s about $47, but it’s certainly money well spent. I’m usually the kind of guy who likes to experience everything there is in a game or DVD when reviewing it, but I couldn’t even get through everything on these DVDs, so you’ll certainly have no complaints about lack of content. So grab a copy of the box set of the box canyon chronicles and I’ll see you next year when you’re done watching it all.

Normally we don’t rate non-game releases, but this one’s just too good...

StarCraft II Contest, NextGen Player Style

By Paul Hunter

To celebrate the launch of StarCraft II we have received two copies of the game to give away to lucky readers. The copies have been provided to us courtesy of Future Shop (thanks!).

Entering is very simple.

All you have to do is send an email to contest@nextgenplayer.com with your favourite StarCraft II race in the subject line. Eligible subject lines are "Terran", "Protoss" and "Zerg". You must also include your full name, mailing address, age and skill test answer in the email otherwise your entry will be void.

SKILL TEST QUESTION: (8 + 6 - 4) / 2 = ?

Only one entry per email address will be accepted.

Two (2) random winners will be drawn on Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 11:59pm Eastern and the winners will be contacted via email with prize details.

This contest is open to all legal residents of Canada (excluding residents in Quebec). You must be 18 years or older to enter the contest. For more details on our general contest rules, click here.

Good luck to everyone.

NextGen Player Team

Jul 26, 2010

Future Shop Hosting National StarCraft II Midnight Madness [Update]

By Paul Hunter

It's Monday, July 26, 2010. Tomorrow it's Tuesday, July 27, 2010. Do you know what happens in a few short hours?

No it's not a national holiday, but it should be. It's the release date of StarCraft II, the most anticipated PC game of the year. If you're looking to get your hands on the game I'd suggest heading on over to your nearest Future Shop store since it's been confirmed that stores will be open at 12:01am tonight for a massive national midnight madness sale.

Future Shop's Elliott Chun posted details on the midnight madness sale on the company's Brand Talk blog last week. The retailer will be giving away gaming headsets with noise canceling microphone to the first 20 purchasers in line, plus the first 50 shoppers will receive a free StarCraft II hat and poster.

For gamers looking to take advantage of Future Shop's trade in program, if you bring in two games for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 or Wii you can net yourself a free copy of StarCraft II. For more information visit Future Shop's StarCraft II splash page.

It's been 12 years since the original StarCraft and amazingly enough Blizzard is still supporting the title. Makes me wonder if we'll still be playing StarCraft II in the year 2022?

Update: The fine print reads that stores in Quebec and Sudbury, ON will be open at 8am on July 27th. Thanks airdom!

EB Games Canada Opens Dozens of Stores at Midnight for StarCraft II

By Paul Hunter

Whoa, maybe the launch of StarCraft II is a national holiday in Canada. I just checked out the EB Games Canada / Gamestop.ca website and saw that the games retailer is also opening dozens of stores across Canada for the release of Blizzard's next real-time strategy behemoth.

No word on whether there will be any giveaways or entertainment provided.

For a list of the stores open tonight at midnight click here (note: it's a PDF link)

Best Buy Canada Hosting Two Big StarCraft II Launch Parties

By Paul Hunter

Best Buy Canada recently sent out an email to customers detailing the company's launch parties for the release of StarCraft II on the PC. Two locations will be hosting 9pm launch parties, Cambie Street in Vancouver and Bay & Dundas in Toronto.

Toshiba will be on-hand giving eager gamers a chance to play the game a few hours in advance of its July 27 street date. Fans in line to purchase the game will also have a chance to win one of five Toshiba Ultimate Gaming Prize Packs which includes a Toshiba X500-03L gaming laptop and StarCraft II Collector's Edition.

More Best Buy locations will be open at midnight (but not hosting parties) including:

1. Edmonton South - 9931-19 Avenue NW, Edmonton, AB
2. Edmonton West - West Point Centre NW, Edmonton, AB
3. Sunridge - Sundridge Power Center, Calgary
4. Ottawa West - 1701 Merivale Road, Nepean, ON
5. St. James - A-810 St. James Street, Winnipeg, MB
6. Langley - 200th St & 64th Ave, Langley, BC

The first 150 customers lined up at each location will received a free Sidewinder X3 gaming mouse with the purchase of StarCraft II. Furthermore, the first 30 customers who shop in-store, but not at one of the midnight launches, will receive a StarCraft II race t-shirt.

For more information on all the Best Buy Canada StarCraft II events and promotions, check out their info page here.

Jul 22, 2010

PlayStation Move Playable at Osheaga Festival

By Paul Hunter

PlayStation Canada have announced on their website that the company will once again be sponsoring the Osheaga Music and Arts Festival, taking place on July 31 & August 1, 2010 in Montreal, Quebec.

The company's upcoming motion control peripheral, PlayStation Move, will be playable at the PlayStation Gaming Lounge at the event. PlayStation Move is poised to compete with Microsoft's upcoming controller-free motion device, Kinect, and Nintendo's highly successful Wii. This is your chance to try Sony's motion control device in advance of its North America launch on September 19, 2010.

But wait, there's more.

Sony have also announced that their line-up of 3D gaming will also be playable on the PlayStation lounge. The first four games to receive the 3D gaming treatment are WipEout HD, Pain, Super Stardust HD, and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift. No word as to which games will be playable, but it's a good bet those four will be available for some hands-on.

Music artists performing at this year's Osheaga Festival include Weezer, Metric, Snoop Dogg, Sonic Youth, and Arcade Fire.

For more information on the festival, check out the official website here.

July 31st: Dragon Quest IX Tag Mode Event

By Alice Stancu

Have you picked up your copy of Dragon Quest IX yet? It's one of the biggest handheld games this year, providing action beyond the classic 1-player JRPG formula. In the spirit of Diablo 2, four players can band together through the local wireless connection to take on tough dungeons and monsters. Characters are fully customizable, and the gameplay is more open-ended than you'd see in a typical RPG. Oh yeah - and no random encounters!

I've only briefly tried out Dragon Quest IX, but I'm looking forward to getting this game ASAP - especially since there will be a Canada-wide tag mode event happening on Saturday, July 31 (2-4pm). Tag Mode lets you keep your game running while it's being stored, so when you walk by someone who also has the game on, you'll automatically exchange things like character info and treasure maps. This sort of game feature is pretty popular in Japan, but rarely makes its way to our side of the globe, perhaps because our population density is a lot lower. Luckily, variations on this concept - like the Pokéwalker peripheral - have started to appear in recent times.

To find the closest participating store near you, browse the list here.
Note that you have to complete Quester's Rest in Stornway to receive maps through Tag Mode.

It looks like you also have a chance of winning a Midnight Blue Nintendo DSi XL at the event - so go, go, go!

Jul 15, 2010

Review: Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story

By Alice Stancu

Let me be the first to admit it: in the years between the flagship releases of a beloved franchise, I rarely look into the side games that developers inevitably pump out. I've always seen them as nothing more than a reminder that the franchise isn't dead. I'm sure there are some people out there who enjoy The Legend of Zelda: The Lampshade of No Real Significance and Mario Does the Weekly Shopping, but that's just not my style. I loved the Mario RPG and Paper Mario series, and the mere idea of playing that sort of game on the DS was a turn-off. RPGs for the DS rarely work out for me. If you have to sit through hour-long cutscenes with no save points in sight, why are you playing on a handheld anyways? So, until now, I didn't think I was missing out. Of course, I was wrong.

A few months ago, I picked up Mario & Luigi: Bowser's Inside Story (the third game in the Mario&Luigi series) and realized just how wonderful these games can be. The plot is a typical sort of Mario plot – the princess is in another part of Bowser's body – but peppered with a charming and amusing cast of characters, ranging from the stereotypically French Broque Monsieur to the Engrish-speaking villain, Fawful. Fawful himself is basically what makes the game so great. He's the most lovable evil villain to ever urge you to “Stop and sample the sprinklies in life's salad bar.” You's be trolling, Fawful.

As the story goes, the Toads of Mushroom Kingdom caught a disfiguring disease called “The Blorbs” from ingesting mushrooms of the magical variety, and only The Bros can save them. Unfortunately, they are inhaled by a temporarily super-powered Bowser, so the first half of the game consists of escaping Bowser's body (and usually helping him get out of a tricky situation) and the second half involves finding the cure for “The Blorbs”. Of course, Mario and Luigi themselves are the darling Italian plumbers that the world loves, and they speak in a gibberish pseudo-Italian, which pairs nicely with Fawful's semi-intelligible Engrish. The graphics and sounds are generally nice; it's a standard look and feel for Nintendo and one that manages to feel timeless even though it's clearly current-gen.

"Blorbs" is a pretty apt name for it

If you haven't played a Mario RPG, be advised that the gameplay differs from the classic RPG formula. While battles are turn-based, all fighting relies on timing; your stats mean nothing if you can't attack efficiently and then dodge/counter when your enemy attacks. You can quickly rack up of damage if you can't figure out an enemy's attack pattern in time. Navigating the world isn't difficult, though it requires a bit of puzzle-platforming skill; you'll have to jump, whirl over, dig under, or beat the crap out of obstacles in your way. Bowser is a reluctant and unknowing protagonist in all this, so he has his own unique world-navigation abilities. Some of the puzzle sections get tedious, but the battles remain interesting throughout.

My play-through barely scratched the surface of all the side quests; there are many different challenge modes, where you either have to perfect a special attack (which I didn't use much of in normal gameplay anyway) or find the fastest way to kill a certain enemy. The challenges tend to be ... well, challenging, but of course that's entirely the point – and there's enough of them to keep you loading up the cartridge long after you've completed the main storyline. While Bowser's Inside Story doesn't quite have the same replayability as other action-RPGs like the Tales or Kingdom Hearts series, you do get ample entertainment from your first playthrough. It's enough fun that I'm definitely going to have to go back and play the rest of the games in this series.