Sunday, November 04, 2012

Wreck-It Ralph - a review

Wreck-It Ralph is a movie I've been following since first glimpsing it in teaser form and have been looking forward to for quite some time as a gamer. As an homage to video game culture, it works, it's got quite a few little references in it that will please the old school gamer in all of us, but as a movie it just works without excelling.

In this film, John C Riley voiced 'Ralph' (or Wreck-It Ralph) is a 'bad guy' character in the 30 year old arcade game 'Fix it Felix' in which his sole goal is to wreck a building which the player then fixes with the 'Fix it Felix' character. The twist and what makes the entirety of the movie worth watching is the idea that arcade game characters do all of this as a work day during the opening hours of an arcade and go back to their normal lives after said shop shuts down.

In this world, each character is able to leave their own game via the central station (a surge protector connecting all the machines, resembles a train station) and mingle with other characters, even go into other arcade games or, as the movie starts out, join support groups. It's in this support group that Ralph discusses his unhappiness with being a 'bad guy', having to live in a dump, getting no respect, having no friends and lacking the praise (and pie) that good guys get for saving the day.

This is where the cameos start. In Ralphs 'bad guy' support group we see characters like Zangief and M.Bison of Street Fighter Fame, Bowser of Mario fame and myriad of other baddies all dealing with the same issues. Through out the movie various other references are made to other titles like Mario, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Sonic, Qbert, Pacman and Halo to name a few... but the movie never seems to do much with these characters outside of showing them off to make the audience go "Oh! I know them!".

Ralph, Vanellope on his shoulder, Calhoun and Felix to his left. Other VG character around.
Instead, the movie focuses on the characters made for the movie. Namely, Ralph, his rival Fix-It Felix, a toughened female Sgt Calhoun whom comes from a FPS game that resembles Halo, an adorable Vanellope whom calls home to a cute candy themed cart racer title, King Candy from the same game and a collection of other supporting characters. Each of these characters are well written and exceptionally voiced. Whomever was in charge of hiring the voice talent did an unbelievable job. Each character is believable and emotional in their own sense, each having their own faults and strengths.

I was glad the characters were that strong as the story is a bit thin. It's not terrible, but it's predictable and doesn't seem to wander away from what's safe. Ralph, as mentioned above, is tired of being the bad guy, so he sets out to win a medal in another game to earn the respect of the other characters in his game and hopefully improve his life in the process.

Ralph jumps into Calhoun's FPS game and through the events in said game is forced to flee into the game for which Vanellope calls home, Sugar Rush. While Hero's Duty (the FPS game which Calhoun is from) is a very dark, super realistic looking game, Sugar Rush is a super colorful, candy filled world in which players cart race for medals.

First on his mission to pursue his metal, Ralph runs into Vanellope, a very cute, very determined young girl who's life long dream is to win a race in her cart. But, because she glitches (a term used for something that goes wrong in a video game) the rest of the characters in the game fears that she'll mess with the game and get them closed down, forcing them to lose their home.

Vanellope, easily my fav character of the movie.

A good half of the movie takes place in this world and there are ups and downs through out the story with all of the above mentioned characters. I don't want to spoil anything for you, so I'll leave it at that. But by the end of the movie you'll have had a good time, enjoyed the characters, grooved to the catchy music and if you happen to be of age to remember them, gotten a kick out of the old school gaming references. Sadly though, I wasn't floored by the experience, wish they had done more with the references than just given a nod; over all I feel like a younger child might get more out of the experience than an adult watching it. Which is probably what Disney was going for anyways... but still.

I feel it's worth a viewing, but it's not one of those movies I'm itching to go back and watch again, I'll just wait for the DVD. 

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Emotion in gaming greatly excites me

I felt horrible taking down a 'Big Daddy' in the first Bioshock title.

I've always connected with games that offered more of a strong narrative with it's characters and story above most other aspects, but now it seems that this factor and the emotional responses it stirs up are becoming even more important to me and changing my outlook on games in general.

I've never been a big stat tracker, I don't ravel in the idea of maxing out characters for the sake of showing them off, I don't give two shits about "presteiging" nor do I care if I beat a game on super hard mode or have the trophies/achievements to back that up.

After finishing my first sit down with PC title 'To the moon', I noticed that I had thoroughly enjoyed the session, possibly even more than I've enjoyed my first forays into both recent titles Doom3BFG and Dishonored. That's saying quite a bit, as I rather enjoyed what I've played of those titles thus far. But it got me thinking. Are there other games, be they smaller or largely publicized titles that have captured me and toyed with my emotions? Strangely, yet wonderfully, the answer is Yes.

Two titles stuck out in my mind as having a stronger grip on me than any others of recent memory; both of which were smaller download titles, but both also seemed to hold gameplay second to the experience and it's really what sparked the idea for this blog.

This, honestly scared me.
The first of these titles is 'Papo & Yo'. A title that gives you control of a boy dealing with growing up with an abusive, alcoholic father. I don't connect with this title on that level, however, as I didn't have a childhood like that, but the effect seemed to be the same. It's kind of cryptic at first as to exactly what is going on and what message it's trying to get across. But by the end, you'll understand what the creator and team wanted to say.

There's a few scenes in the game that really took me back for a second and made me feel something more than just that fulfillment of being entertained. There were times where I felt a simple whimsical joy, I assume not unlike that of a child. I felt uncertainty when it came to monster and trusting him. Then I felt a sense of dread and a bit of fear when it came time when monster did show his aggressive side. This actually surprised me... as I've grown up on video games... I've played tons of them, I've hacked up, shot down and mowed through thousands of enemies in tons of games over the years, laughed at horror games trying to scare me and yet... this game tug at my various emotions. It's not even a groundbreaking game, it's decent, but not something a lot of people would even consider for some kind of "top 10" list. Yet, it is what it is and it stuck with me. There's a particular scene near the end, which the game gives you a solid 5(ish) minutes to take in and think about, as they play out a scene quite slowly and is something I'll probably never forget as long as I'm on this earth. It brought the idea of the game together, but... it made me think of the situations I had just gone through in a different light, pushed me into considering a different perspective... I was floored.

The second title to reach into my repertoire of emotions and bring something to the surface is Journey. Like Papo & Yo, Journey had an air about it that attracted me to it, even if I didn't have much of a clue as to the whole idea behind it. Starting out, you're not really told much of anything, be it a plot line or how to control the experience (outside of 'X' jumps) and you're left to explore, albeit guided very gently to where you need to go. Very gently is a key word as it has more to do with the structure of the levels than it is the game telling you that you should go a certain way.

Exploring the game at first, by yourself, is interesting, you're left to just figure out what the rules of this world are and how you play a part in this space. Later, without (the developers) telling you, you're introduced to levels in which other players (actual people playing at the same time) are integrated into your game as characters that look just like you. On my first run-in with one of these beings, I was excited to see another character and then intrigued by the behavior of (what I thought was) this NPC and then the joy of learning that it was in fact another person. No communication tools are available in the game, you have a jump button and a sort of "Shout" button which sends out a bit of a dissipating orb that grows from your body. But quickly, you learn to communicate with the other player with these simple tools and from there it gets even better.

Journey, with a friend is rather rewarding.

As you Journey with your friend (if you two stick together that is, if you go ahead by yourself, new players will load in instead of waiting for the player you were playing with first) you learn new things about the world. About who your character is, why they are here, where here is and what happened to this place. I don't want to ruin the experience for others, so I'll not tell you about how the game ends and how everything comes together. But suffice to say, it's one hell of a ride. Aside from the varied reactions I had to learning I was playing with another person, I also felt a bit of partnership with said character. In one play through I stuck with the same person for the whole game and we helped each other out. I felt pride in finding some hard to find pieces of scarf, I felt fear when a dark element is introduced in the game. Said fear turned into hand clenching excitement and a furthering of that fear as I tried my best to hide and then flee wildly from said dark force once spotted in a certain cavernous part of the game. I felt guilt and dread if a friend happened to get caught by this dark force. But it's the end of the game (much like Papo & Yo) that really shocked me.

Again, not detailing it, so as not to ruin it. The end toyed with my emotions so much... I felt drained when I finally let the credits roll. I felt anger, a bit of regret, then sadness then a weird acceptance and ultimately joy and calm as I hurled towards the end goal, completely at peace with what exactly happened. When I did put my controller down, I noticed my hands were shaking a bit, I was on a bit of a high of emotion and I just felt like I had been on the emotional trip of a life time in the matter of a few hours.

I never would of guessed that these two titles would of evoked such emotions in me and it makes me excited to see what else I can experience. Hard to say if 'To the Moon' will hold a similar experience, but it's kind of leading that way and I'll be pleased if it does. Thinking back on it, games like the Mass Effect series and the Uncharted series, which are a couple of my top games this generation in gaming, are in my top lists because of their characters and the emotion they're able to bleed into them. Perhaps it's not quite the same thing as the titles mentioned above, but it's interesting that the human connection is what draws me to them more than the game-play. I have no doubt that such a thing is connected to my maturing as I continue to grow as a person, my values changing as I do, but it's still kind of surprising and exciting at the same time.

I hope 'To the Moon' is just as powerful as the above titles.

David Cage, director at Quantic Dream, behind games like Omikron and Heavy Rain expressed his love for this very thing (the human connection) and communicating it through his titles. I wasn't sure if I agreed with him in saying that games need to have this sort of thing to strike a cord in the hearts of players... but I'm starting to believe he may be right. No, not every game needs this all of the time, as games are wide in variety and genres, but for me at least, I think I'm going to start needing these kinds of things for a game to stand out with me as I get tired of mindless violence and by the numbers gaming that never gets me invested into it's story. It's exactly why Call of Duty, especially it's multiplayer, means almost nothing to me.

Granted, I've also made connection with various games over the years, cared for their characters, shed a tear at certain events, felt a heavy heart at others and had those experiences stick with me over the years, but the impact seems to be greater now.

In closing, I'm loving this new breath of life in gaming and hope to see more of it as time goes on. Do you, readers, have an suggestions for stronger emotional titles?

Monday, October 22, 2012

Street Fighter 25th: Sometimes collector sets are worth it

When it comes to collector sets, with any medium really, it's often a situation where the team behind it are making something of a love letter to fans of the content, or are looking to cash in.

My mother got me a nifty looking box one Christmas, housing the collector's edition of the Tron: Evolution PlayStation 3 game which turned out to be a rather cheaply made $150 (okay, $90, as the game was $60) Tron light cycle with case, as the sole item included in such a 'special' edition. I was happy with my gift and loved her for her thoughtfulness, but as a set, the company behind is was so milking fans for their cash. Had the quality of the product been bumped up, I can see it being worth it, especially for fans, but as it stood, it was a bit of a stinker at that asking price.

Then you've got sets that come along and are worth every damn penny you drop into the purchase. Street Fighter's 25th Anniversary box set is one of those very things.

One could argue that even more could of been packed into the set; and sure, that's always something some are going to argue, but I am completely happy with this set and would of kicked myself if I had chosen to cancel my pre-order (which is something I actually thought about doing, as the set went for $150 and I was short on cash at the time it shipped).

Bare with me here as I take you through the contents of said box:

The box was contained in this cardboard sleeve, which too was in plastic, but here the plastic is removed. It's a heftier box than I had imagined. Which is a good sign, yes?

With the sleeve off, we've got a nice looking velvet like finish, with metallic logos and even metal on the corners for decoration. Let's pop this sucker open.

Open sesame. A mixture of cardboard and that faux-velvet material on the inside (it actually looks nicer than I detail), chunk-ing each section up into compartments. The top part of the box, shows the certificate with an address to fans written by Yoshinori Ono, along with an indication of the numbered box of the set (of 30,000 made). Behind that, is the large artbook for the set.

With the certificate aside, you can see the cradle for the book; the book itself is a soft feeling, hard cover book, filled with completely wonderful art pieces by fans. A lot of them are pulled from DeviantArt, but it's honestly a better showing than a book full of official art would of been, in my personal opinion.

A quick example of the art and layout of the book. Each piece lists the artist, their website (or deviant art account) and a small section written by them about the piece or their fandom of Street Fighter in general.

A hovering shot of the box (before I removed the book), showing the contents before I start plucking them out. On the left, the Ryu statue - which to my surprise actually takes batteries and lights up. The two PlayStation 3 games, Super Street Fighter IV Arcade Edition and Street Fighter X Tekken. A card with a code for Street Fighter 2 Turbo HD Remix, Street Fighter III: Third Strike Online Edition and DLC packs for SSFIVAE and SFXT. The Blu-Ray housing a ton of content, the 11 discs containing a head spinning amount of soundtrack content spanning the entire series and finally the full size replica Ryu belt.

Ryu in all his glory. The build quality is decent. I've seen more detailed figures out there, but this is far from a cheap knock off. His iconic pose is held in place by those blue swirl pieces and are what light up.

Took a shot in the dark to give you a feeling of what it's like. It's actually quite bright and has a better glow than this pic shows. (Image quality suspect on this shot, as it was in the dark, with my phone instead of my camera).

The first of many of the audio discs included in the box, giving a pretty extensive collection of the series' musical tracks. I believe there's even a 'fan's remix' CD included in the mix as well. I just took one pic and left the rest in the soft foam holding they're sitting it.

Now on to the thing that brought everyone into fandom, the games. Included in this pack is the Arcade Edition of Super Street Fighter IV and Street Fighter X Tekken. Both are housed on their own discs, in this single box. I haven't actually put them in my system yet (had SSFIV prior) but will at some point. The included code card (pic after this) includes a bunch of DLC for both games.

The 'code card' as I like to call it has a code on the back (just one sadly, not separate codes for each of the items) entitles a download of SSF2 HD, SF III 3rdStrike Online and a heft of DLC packs (costumes really) for the two disc based games above.

The Blu-Ray disc housed in the box is feature packed. It includes a documentary on the series, two Street Fighter IV featurettes, the SF2 animate movie and the original Street Fighter Animated series. Would of loved to see some SF Alpha content, but perhaps that's for another box set ;)

Last, but not least, is the mega cool, full sized replica belt that Ryu wears in game. Often times, collector sets end up packing in some kind of half-assed version of a replica, but this thing is well build. Quite impressed with it. Am I going to use it? No, probably not, but it's still very nice. Too bad they didn't include his red bandanna as well.

The last image I've taken is of the little passage, Ono wrote to fans, which I thought was kind of cool. Thought you might like a peak too.

In closing, I am so satisfied with this package and feel that a lot of love and time was put into it's production. Unlike other collector sets that feel cheap and more like a money grab, this one seems to have been made for the fans. I'd hope other companies take notice and see exactly how things are done. Sure, there could of been more things put into the set, but as it is, it succeeds as a wonderful homage to a great series.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

A Papo & Yo review

Papo & Yo is a title that had me interested from the first time I laid eyes on it. Staring a scrawny little boy and what looked to be his pet monster, working together in an interestingly artistic take on a run down, third world area; it just seemed to stand out as a title that had little to compare with. At this point, I had no idea what the story behind the project wanted to tell, why the monster was around or what the goal of the game was, ultimately.

Then came a post from the developer whom detailed the changes to 'Monster', that came about after some discussion with a friend about the subject. A number of gamers, including myself, didn't seem to understand the need for the changes as the new Monster looked much less a childhood friend (and even model quality wise, it was of lesser detail) and expressed such feelings. Vander Caballero, director and mind behind the entire story, idea and project (along with Montreal based developer, Minority) shared with the community that the change made a lot of sense to the core values of the game, assuring gamers that they would 'get it' once they experienced the game for themselves. I thought back to this response when I finished Papo & Yo and now completely agree.

The Original Monster (left) and redesign (right)
At the beginning of Papo & Yo, Caballero dedicates the project to his Mother and Sisters for having survived the Monster inside his father. Not exactly sure what that meant, I read into it a little more (online) and learned that the project centered around Caballero's childhood, growing up with an alcoholic father. With that under my belt, I started into the game.

You take control of Quico, a young boy whom seems to teleport himself from a closet, into this world of run down shacks that sort of resemble a town, which is completely void of other people; except for Monster, a large red being whom pokes around the levels looking for stuff to eat and occasionally a girl the same(ish) age as Quico, whom drops hints and gets you to do things for her. Most levels play out having you do some light platforming and more heavily gets you to solve environmental puzzles that more often than not have sort of 'other worldy twist' on them; getting you to lift entire buildings, create stairs by ripping them out of walls or even stacking buildings together to form bridges.

If you're not solving puzzles within the environment, you're trying to get 'Monster' to do your bidding. You'll need him to hit pressure switches, trap him in areas to progress and over all just bring him along from point A to B. This isn't exactly easy, as he only responds to food... and Frogs. A yellow fruit satisfies him, a Frog (if eaten) sends him into a flaming rage (this is better explained later) and a blue fruit makes him throw up the frogs, ending his rage streak. This is used somewhat, but less than I would of likes in the whole scheme of things.

A bridge made of small buildings? Ehh, why not?
Be they environment puzzles or those involving Monster... or even both as some of the later levels have you shifting between the two quite regularly, each effecting the other; they seem rather thought out, but a little too cut and dry and thus not overly challenging. I would of liked a little more challenge, a little more of that "sitting back and thinking about what to do" rather than just "Okay, there's a switch for that, I know what I'm doing", kind of set up.

Thus, the main aspect of the gameplay is merely adequate. The platforming is painful as it feels like you should have so much more freedom as a character... but are quite limited to an almost real world physics system. You do gain the ability to double jump/glide a short distance once you meet your robot friend Lola, whom too opens up a few new ideas for puzzles, but for the most part, you're running around tackling the puzzles aspect of the world. In this regard, it's not a terribly exciting game, but it's interesting story is what redeems this title.

As noted above, the main theme of this project is that of growing up with an alcoholic father. Without giving away much (it's much better to experience it, trust me) you go through the game's 5 acts (each with a number of levels each) and learn various things about 'Monster', what connection it has to your character Quico, your Father and your two friends (the girl and robot). 'Monster' himself is a bit of complex creature, even if you're merely interacting with him via thrown food and he does not talk. Interestingly enough though, the team behind the game have made him a creature that can be both a nice aspect of the game, someone you seemingly can trust and at other times, he can become a very scary aspect of the game, something you almost want to avoid. It's a dynamic they play with a lot. Ultimately, the game will hint at the main idea at certain points, but won't come right out and bluntly say it until the very end.

By that time you'll have exhausted the game's play mechanics, but enjoying the journey it took you though. It's a title that won't win any awards for it's game design, but is quite worth the cover charge for it's thought provoking theme; including it's character design, story and emotional themes. A little rough on the technical specs, but charming in it's art style and music. Papo & Yo is an example of a smaller indie project (funded by Sony's Pub fund initiative that offers smaller studios help to get their games on PSN) with it's strength lying in it's emotional ties and desire to weave a story, inviting gamers to think on the aspects rather than blow through a title for a high score or bragging rights.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

To a Dear Friend

So, here's the situation. A song came across my random playlist on my media player just now and it almost brought me to tears. The song itself is quite a nice number, very soothing, but it's not the song itself that spurs such feelings. It's the thought of a dear friend brought with that song which has me shifting moods all of a sudden.

Just about a year ago now, a dear friend of mine, whom I've spent hours and hours discussing everything under the sun with (no really, we use to even get into things like the theory of relativity and how it applied to rules on other planets), be it through some kind of IM program or through emails that went for pages and pages and pages, just kind of vanished.

He was known for just up and leaving for a good month or so to focus on school or family issues, but never much longer and certainly not without some kind of peek in to see how things were going, a little email or something. Sadly, every possible outlet online that I've known him to visit paints the same story. A year before now, something happened to take him completely from any interaction.

I'm hoping it's something less drastic than what I've had in my head, but... I have my doubts. I've tried to contact him multiple times within the last year and nothing. It sure doesn't help that all I really know about how to contact him is that his first name is Alec (or Alex) and that he resided in Romania. Most other things he kept close to his chest. We discussed many a personal thing and shared ideas and thoughts on all aspects of life, but that kind of personal info he kept to himself.

Anyways. I miss my friend. I want him to return. If you have word from him, let me know. I would love to hear that he's okay. That's all really. If not...

Cloud737, Alec, Miss you budd, may we meet in another life. This is for you.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

Free crappy Helicopters anyone?

A weird title, I know. But, I've been spending some time on Listia lately, been trading some stuff off for credits, using said credits to get some cool items of my own, you know. But, forever (even now) people were putting up and trading these dumb looking Helicopter avatar items for 360 avatars, that came from playing Kinect Adventures (I think). Anyways, there were tons of them... to the point where it was hard to go through what was new in the video games section because they filled pages with them. So... what did I do? I bid 1credit each on like 50 of them in an attempt to get them and ensure they're never go back up on the site. 50c really is nothing, so it's not like it cost me anything.

Anyways, I've gathered a collection of codes that can be used to redeem the stupid little things. (*Believe it or not some people out bid me on some of them :S) Thought someone might like em? Ehh, they're free game! Have fun:



Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Another year older

I've been trying to craft a blog post for quite some time now. I've got like 3 half done posts sitting in my drafts and never seem to have the ambition to finish them, funny thing, I even quit writing this blog post a few times and went off to do other stuff.

Anyways, I'll make this one short and sweet. Today, 14th May (okay, yesterday now... cuz I take too long to write a blog), a number of years ago, I was born :) 5:30am as my mother recalls and a month early at that, I came into this world and have been gaming since ;)

The day was a quiet one where I started the day puppy-sitting my sis's pup and I spent the rest of the day partaking in the task I call "Vedging" in which I do nothing and even then I feel bored of that. I watched some Netflix, played some games (About a Blob and God of War 1 mostly), spent some time outside, took 2 naps, you know one of those days where you do NOTHING :P It was kind of nice really, with how hectic things have been lately.

Mom made an awesome home made meal for my birthday, consisting of an awesome casserole dish that I enjoy and chocolate cake smothered in cream cheese icing. Gahh. Drool. We got some Chinese food the night before as a treat for Mom on mothers day and my brain is in awe at the awesome meals I've been enjoying :P (I really like Chinese food, lol).

I got a few things, just a few, but really cool items that I am pumped to have received. The first, is an item I pointed out on amazon as something I'd love; the first 4 books in the 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series - better known by the first book "A Game of Thrones" which the show took as it's name. I absolutely love the show and have been keeping up, every week, with the episodes and decided I wanted the books. I've got some reading to do :D

The other very cool, bigger type item is a really neat looking boxset of all 11 seasons of the TV show M*A*S*H. I've grown to really enjoy the show over the last few months, as it's been on a channel we get here in Canada, "Dejaview", which shows only older programming. Stuff like All in the Family, Three's Company, of course MASH, Golden Girls, Roseanne (another fav of mine) and lots of other shows that were on during the 70s, 80s and early 90s. A lot of the shows were aired before I was born, but I can still very much enjoy them. The box itself looks like an old school medkit, complete with cloth outer layer. The inside folds out like a book.

I also got a $50 PSN card which has been redeemed and used to get Legend of Dragoon and Tales from Space: About a Blob (as I really enjoyed the Vita sequel, I thought I'd give the original a go). Totally leaving the rest for something I want in the future.

My sis also said she had something for me, but she's working a few back-shifts currently and I won't see her until at least tomorrow. A pretty cool birthday if I do say :) Oh, also, I kind of bought myself a few things, not necessarily for my birthday, but they're purchases so close that I almost count them as personal gifts. I got the Blu-Ray set 'Alien Anthology' which I've been waiting for to drop in price for over a year now I think, amazon had it for $49. I also picked up Midnight Club: LA Complete, Super Paper Mario, Fight Night Champion and Shadows of the Damned for $15 ea. With my b-day gifts and new games, I'll be busy for quite a while :)

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A injection for PC gaming

So, I've been contemplating getting a newer PC for some time now. The iffy frame rates I was getting in GTA IV (especially if I ran it with the ICEnhancer mod) only solidified that feeling. Truth be told, I just upgraded my tower maybe a year (or two?) ago. Where I swapped out the mother board, added a blu-ray drive and plugged in an HD 5870 (1gb) card to get me to a level where I could play some more solid games. Technology being what it is, however, here we are again, feeling the tech pinch.

But, money isn't quite as loose as it was back when I did the last upgrade. Car payments and other bills seem to just eat at the bank account. Step in, Brother. lol. My brother, whom ditched his old tower (which would of been the tower I had 2 upgrades ago), frustrated with a slow moving windows XP and often crashing hard drive, went out and bought a laptop. Said laptop has served him decently in his quest for World of Warcraft, but he too is looking for an upgrade, especially with Diablo 3 coming around the corner.

So, he tells me what he's looking for and spots a tower in a local 'big store' that would fit the need. I tell him he could just pay me the money for mine and I'll go a head and use that towards a new one for me. Seeing that the tower I built matches almost exactly what he was looking for (and an offer to sell it to him cheaper than the tower at the store would cost), it seems like a win win.

The last... 3 PCs I've owned, I built myself and at a decent discount when compared to just buying the same thing already built, but this time around my brother wanted it soon... and building one from scratch, finding the parts, etc, takes some time. So I just went and ordered a pre-built system and swapped in a few other parts.

I ended up going with (I've dealt with them before and have had no complaints) and grabbing this:

Ehh, actually that's just the case it's in. But you get the idea. It came with a DVD burner drive which I swapped out for a Blu-Ray burner, an added 3.5" bay port for 2 USB3 ports and an additional 2TB hdd. 

The interesting part of this case is the top of the unit that includes two ports, that kind of resemble that of an SNES cartridge port that allows you to directly plug in SATA HDDs with a simple click. It's an odd feature, but one I've used already (took out my TB hdd from the old PC and copied over a lot of stuff I had on it to my new 2TB drive). I actually disconnected the top bay as I needed it's SATA cable/slot for my 2TB drive, but I've still got the lower one if I ever need this feature again.

Here's a closer pic of said slots:

The company who actually put together the unit claims it has 'Custom Liquid Cooling', which I presume in on the CPU... as I took the tower apart and that's the only odd looking thing I could see. Cool bullet point, but, w/e :P

It's running an Intel Core i7 3.4GHZ CPU, has 16GB of DDR3 1333 RAM, a 1TB SATA HDD housing Win7 and the extra 2TB drive I put in, the BR Burner I also swapped in, a 2GB GTX 560 GPU and a multitude of other little numbers and specs. I'm really happy with the amount of USB ports in it. The back has (I believe) 4 2.0 slots, 2 3.0 slots and the front has another 3 3.0 and 1 2.0, so I should be good for those.

I've just been updating the hell out of it for the last day or so (you know, updating windows, drivers, getting essential software, codecs etc). I'm waiting for an upgrade for my GPU software/drivers and after that plan to install Photoshop (me without PS is not cool). I haven't done any gaming on it, really, I did manage to copy over all of my Steam games, however, it takes a little work to get steam to recognize that the content is there (technically, just copying the files over and then telling steam to download the game, only to find all of the content there, isn't exactly a straight forward way to do it, but it beats re-downloading the games and I've never had success with their backup utility).

Soo, I should be good for gaming... for a little while? I know in a year I'll probably think other wise... but hey. Still got my old monitor, the one with a green line going vertically down the middle. I figure, for the price of a good monitor, I'm okay with putting up with the line, for now. *Actually, I hardly notice it anymore, :P.

Kind of pumped to see what I can do with some more recent games. I was able to run RAGE just fine on my old set up, we'll see how it does with this one. Perhaps (if Steam throws it on sale) I'll see how Skyrim fairs (already have it on PS3, but like the idea of seeing it on the PC).

That's it. Peace. :P

Monday, April 16, 2012

Molyneux - the hard truth

Yeah, people will disagree with me. That's how things go. But there are a lot of people that agree with me on this too.

As I read that Peter Molyneux was jumping ship from another company he formed, to join another new one, I thought "Why does he feel the need to keep doing this?". Perhaps he's just trying to get back his glory days? *Shrugs. I got some interesting feedback after posting this in a few groups on facebook, so I thought I'd share here as well.

It's my opinion that his days starting out with Bullfrog were his best. So I made this:

Not really subtle, but deff true to the heart. Say what you will about fable, it just doesn't match up with what Molyneux did back in the day in terms of following through with ambition. He blames becoming too comfortable, being given the benefit of the doubt from the industry. Perhaps he's right. Whatever the reason, lets hope his latest move allows him the pressure to get back to doing what he did best; making good games.

By the way, all four of those titles listed above can be found on

Saturday, April 07, 2012

New obsession: Giving stuff away

Ha, that sounds a little odd. But that's basically what I'm doing. @jediknight52501 turned me on to the trading site,, and I've been glued to it ever since.

The site itself is a simple concept; you list stuff to give away (charge shipping or not, up to you) and people bid on it with 'credits' that they earn on the site and by giving their own stuff away. The idea is that you give some stuff away that you've got no real need for (instead of selling it on something like ebay) and use the points gathered from your auctions to buy stuff you want from others. You get 400 credits just for signing up and can earn more for using the site more.

Thus far I've won just one auction, snagging a copy of Monster Rancher 3 (PS2). I bid on a copy of Hotshots Golf (Vita) but don't have enough credits to top the highest bidder anymore. I'm also winning bids on a silver PS2 controller and a copy of ATV Offroad Fury 3 (PS2). I'm watching a few auctions for PS2 systems (I really want a PS2 again) but also contacted a local seller on kijiji (a Canadian barter site) about a listing he had for a PS2 as well (which would allow me to pick it up, instead of getting it shipped), waiting to hear on that.

To nab some more credits to afford some stuff I'd like to snatch, I put up a few things myself. A copy of Dark Sector for PS3, which sits at 2290 credits, a steam copy of Oblivion GOTY, sitting at 505c and a steam copy of STALKER at 0c (just posted). I'm poking around for little things that I could post up on the site (stuff I wouldn't mind getting rid of for free) as I like some of the stuff up on the site and would like to continue bidding on such. If you'd like to bid on my stuff, please do :)

If you're interested in the site, please sign up via my invite link that gives you a bonus 100credits and I receive a bonus of 500credit if you post your first auction. Oh, also, the entire site and process is completely free to use, no fees for posting or any of that kind of jazz you run into with ebay.

My personal invite link
(to sign up - bonus credits for me and you)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Looking Back: The Journeyman Project

I've been thinking... about games from my past and how fond memories of each still root themselves into how I game today. While some may intertwine, I don't just look at my favorite games of the years past... but those that stuck out in my head as quite memorable for some reason or another. They may not be perfect games, in fact - their quirkiness may be the reason for it being memorable; but I'd still like to share with you, my experience and thoughts on them.

The first is a 1992 PC title by Presto Studios (Now defunct) which is tricky to track down. Thankfully, being the hoarder I am of cool things of my past, I kept the actual CD Rom that came with our first PC (a Packard Bell, 75mhz beast of a machine running a fresh new copy of the newly released Windows 95). Yeah, oddly enough, Packard Bell packed in some rather odd software with their PC at the time, I'll go over some of those in a later post like this one.

The 1992 title I was speaking of is 'The Journeyman Project'.

I had the Turbo edition (a slightly updated version over that of the older versions) and it's one of those titles that used special codes you'd need to enter a few times within the game as a sort of "DRM" predecessor in which you'd NEED to have the manual to figure out the puzzles. I remember thinking it so weird that I had to flip through a manual for codes for doors and such, but it was unique to me at least.

The game itself takes place in the distant future (something like 2320) where the entire earth is under a unified government of peace; on the verge of a meeting with Alien diplomats whom want to accept the human race into a peaceful alliance of global species. You play Agent 5, whom is part of a company in charge of controlling time travel or fixing things that perpetrators have managed to go back and change. The scientist whom discovered the means behind time travel is the antagonist of the game who sends large, heavily armed robots back in time to sabotage the events leading up to the meeting with the alien forces, as he believes them to have malevolent intentions.

You are tasked with averting these changes and going back even as far as the time of dinosaurs to recover discs that hold the records of history needed to compare with the changes being made, in order to prevent them (the discs were hidden during those times for such occasions).

This is your HUD, Interface and gameplay screen.

The entire game plays through the view of Agent 5's monocle eye piece, which acts as his hub to the world, allowing him to store data, check his inventory and attach bio-chips to help him in his journey. It's got a slight cyber-punk style to it, with the whole implanted technology bit.

The game itself, however, is pre-rendered 3D (not real time, which is understandable for it's time), you get to explore the environments that look much like 3D games do today, but each scene is more like a picture that has interactive pieces within them. You can move Agent 5 forward, backward, left and right and each move is followed by a sort of fade transition to give the impression of walking. It's a bit jarring for today's standards, but it's completely functional and kind of resembles the idea used in old school point/click adventures... just in a first person view.

The gameplay itself really makes you think as the story eludes to what you have to do, but doesn't lay it out exactly. Being that it's only about an hour or two long (if you know exactly what you're doing) it makes sense that they made things vague so that you have to go around investigating things and learning the world for yourself.

One of the Robots sent back in time. Also your enemy.

There are sequences in which characters and enemies are animated, but generally play out like a short movie where you have choices of what to do. Believe it or not there's even a bit of a morality system in place too as you get to choose to either take down the menacing robots peacefully or aggressively, which effects your final score at the end. The is also a little bit of live action-esc kind of acting to help flesh out the characters... and no it's not as bad as you think.

I have quite fond memories of going through it as it's a really unique title. A bit 'pulled back' for today's standards, but interesting none-the-less. It's music too, I fondly enjoy listening to (looked some some vids on youtube while writing this). Sadly, not a lot of copies out there. I did manage to find some on ebay and if you're interested. GoG had it's two sequels, but not the original or the revamp. The revamp, dubbed "Pegasus Prime" updated the visuals a bit, including things like better quality FMV bits and actual walking animations between screen transitions.

If you're interested in at least seeing the game instead of tracking a copy down, there's always awesome youtube users whom have walkthroughs of the game :) Included below is the first of 6 videos that'll take you through the game. Enjoy:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Fandom eats at my bank account

Being a gamer isn't a cheap hobby... that's for sure. Most of you whom read this, knows this. With games sitting at $60 a pop when first released (a NA price, I know worldly it's all over the place) for a standard edition and special/collectors/limited editions going up from there, honestly drugs might be a cheaper way to spend one's cash.

As time goes on, I get better at spending money on games and I leave only the most anticipated games for launch day pick-ups and even fewer of those for collector edition considerations. Instead I choose to wait for price drops or the purchase of used games (generally price drops, as I like the idea of supporting the developer even if I do it at a smaller offering instead of giving places like EBGames my money). Steam, GoG and sales across console digital stores sure help out quite a bit as they allow one to acquire lots of games at a fraction of the price you'd pay elsewhere.

Erm, that's not really the point of my blog though. The entire point is that... sometimes... as a fan of games and particular titles... we, as gamers, seem to make even more special exceptions for spending money on stuff that... we probably don't 'need' but still like to collect and stare at in awe.

Such is the case for my next purchase.

I noted in my last blog, my fondness of Bioware's Mass Effect series, and just so happen to follow their page on facebook, which linked me to a small updated entitled "New ME3 lithographs at the Bioware Store". Of course I was at least interested to see what they had (if nothing else) and then I found this:

Holy crap. I wanted it instantly. I added it to my cart and browsed the rest of the site, adding a hoodie and other other goods to my cart as well. At nearly $300 in total goods, I just sat back, raised an eyebrow and said to myself "I'll sit on this, think it over later" and left the site. I went about my evening and did whatever, came back later and checked in on my list of "goods" and deleted them all from the cart... except the original lithograph that I had spotted.

It features the Asari Aria T'Loak, whom if you remember Mass Effect 2, is a criminal overload of epic proportions. She's just right mix of edgy and insane with smart and cunning, which is quite the contrast to the other Asari you spend a lot of time with in the series, Liara. I've always liked her as a character and was very excited to see her return in the series third outing. To have Bioware then throw this up on their store in a limited quantity of just 500 prints just made my day.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No, I will not read your Mass Effect 3 blog post.

One Fucking word and I'll blow your head off.

Hey guys, girls and giant human sized rabbits from the future, how are you? This is a rather odd blog post, but I thought I might just throw it up here anyways.

**Special note - I will NOT be discussing ANYTHING spoiler-wise about ME3 here.**

I am currently enjoying the hell out of Mass Effect 3 on my 360. It's really the ONLY thing I'm playing right now. I've got about 15 hours in on the single player game (I play rather meticulously, carefully planning, choosing missions, searching for hidden stuff, talking with characters and playing around with the environments to see what I can and can't do) and probably nearly as much time in it's multiplayer offerings as well.

I love the Mass Effect series. I really do. I love the writing of it's characters, I love the extremely realized worlds, I love the idea of playing your Shepard how you want (good or evil or a mix), I love the amount of detail the team has put into every aspect of the titles and how I escape into that world every time I jump in to play. This is why I won't be reading ANY of your Mass Effect 3 blog posts. I care too much about experiencing the world for myself, being caught off guard by split decisions I have to make and finding my own way through it's paths of story.

I don't want to ruin a single thing and so I've decided to completely ignore anything I see online that has to do with ME3. That's quite hard to do as a ton of people on every damn aspect of the internet, wants to discuss their experience with it, be it something that happened in the game or their over all view of the game or what have you... and while some try to make sure it's spoiler free... a lot of the time it ends up being not-so... or a comment after the post ends up spoiling something. There's quite the uproar going around right now concerning one part of the game (won't mention which).. (I haven't read up on it, merely seen headlines) that even Bioware is responding to... and I dislike seeing even stuff like that. Sigh. Why is the internet so crazy? :S lol.

Suffice to say, I'll continue my great time with this game and ignoring anything related to it on the internet (including blog posts you guys make), just thought I'd let ya know :P If you're on XBL and have the game/want to play online, I would love to play! :D Thus far I've been playing with strangers.

Oh, and on the MP portion of the game... What is the point of Mics if all people do is yell at each other? Seriously... I've played many a match where we play in silence and are able to keep tabs with how team mates are doing, how the objectives are going etc and finish the rounds just fine. Jump into a match with mics and all I've heard is "WTF ARE YOU DOING!", "GET THE FUCK OVER HERE GUYS, THIS IS THE BEST CAMPING PLACE", "YOU ALL SUCK FUCKING COCK" and "SERIOUSLY? THIS WHOLE TEAM SUCKS SHIT".

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ben X - one of the better films I've seen in a while

I've forgotten exactly where I heard about BenX, but it's taken some work to get my hands on it... and I'm glad I did. The film is in Belgian, without any subtitle options (on my copy at least) and so I resorted to to get me a copy that would allow me to understand what was being said in the film. The sub I did get my hands on was poor, some words were straight up not translated and oft times sentences made no sense in their structure, not to mention subtitles just missing for various things said, but it was still enough to be able to enjoy the film.

It's a 2007 film from Belgian film director Nic Balthazar (whom also wrote the book that the movie is based off - which just so happened to be based on a true story of similar events) which follows a high school student, Ben, whom struggles with bullies and people in general mostly due to his quirks brought on by his Asperger syndrome (a form of Autism). They show you Ben through out stages in his life, trying to live a normal life with going to school and the tribulations met with fellow students and even teachers not understanding how it is Ben learns and deals with life. Ben does not express himself through vocal means and instead stays silent, meticulously analyzing the small things in life; the way people's lips move, how their eyes express and so on, not being able to just take in the world as a whole idea.

Ben has an escape, however, as he is able to better converse his thoughts and realize himself as a brave and heroic character in the MMO "ArchLord" (which is an actual MMO). In this world, everything makes sense to him and he references the ability to be whom ever you want in such a world instead of having to deal with your only option of "self" in the real world. More importantly, his entire time on the game from inception up until we meet him in the film (a level 80 character) he has paired up with a girl whom goes by the handle "Scarlite". His "Healer" and companion, the two bond greatly over the game and she plays a larger role later as the story progresses.

But that's really all I'm going to say... because I pretty much knew that much going in and I was pleasantly surprised at how the entire rest of the film played out after the point I thought it might end. It wasn't a movie where I could pin the idea down as quickly as I thought I could and for that I adore it. It had me guessing a bit and I really enjoyed the character of Ben and his way of thinking.

By the end of it, I had tears in my eyes and a smile on my face, as the credits rolled, I took a breath and decided to write this blog post. Check it out.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I love GoG - My GoG shelf

I like other digital distribution services as well, don't get me wrong, but what GoG is doing for the older classics is beyond a service to the industry. The guys and girls behind the site take their time with each and every title that goes up on the site, making sure that each game is ironed out to work perfectly out of the box (or rather after installing) without any major issues for customers to deal with. Is it an old DOS based title that won't run on modern machines? Don't worry, GoG will put it in DOSBOX (a superb Emulator) and tweak it to work best with modern OSes. I've even heard of the team doing their own patches to get games working, without incident, on machines that would other wise take a whole lot of work arounds for fans to get running (if they'd done it themselves).

Their collection of titles is growing all the time and at $5.99/$9.99 for each title, it's hard not to snag a few out of nostalgia or curiosity. As seen above, some of their most recent titles include hits like Hitman, Deus Ex, Syndicate, Theif and Worms.

As games start to move to the digital platform... I start to feel more and more nostalgic to the idea of having a shelf and stacking my games on it. Sure, consoles (for the most part) still allow you to collect and arrange physical cases for your games... but on the PC side of things it's becoming a rare thing (besides the Collector's edition of StarCraft 2, the previous physical copy game for the PC that I've purchased is like Half-Life 2 back in 2004). I really don't mind digital content as it allows me to keep my stuff with me where ever I go.. and it's quite convenient not needing a bunch of discs swapped in and out in order to play my games, but I still feel for that "Look over to my shelve and just decide to put in a classic title" kind of feeling.

Then steps in GoG (Good old Games) with their virtual Shelf :) I got word today that they threw up Anachronox for sale on the site and I jumped at the chance to buy it. I'm downloading it now and hope to jump into it soon :).

Anyways, here is my collection of classic titles on GoG. What does your GoG gaming shelf look like?

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wasteland 2? Yeah, why not.

So, if you've been following my blogs, you'll know that I'm big on the idea of fan funding a project that would possibly get looked over by publishers. With just over 2 hours to go in Double Fine's kickerstarter project that asked for $400,000 to help fund a throw back to the adventure games of the past; the project sits at over $3.2 million... I'd say they've been quite successful in their attempt to get fan backing.

No doubt intrigued by this idea, Brian Fargo, head of InXile (also a huge part behind the former Interplay) and a guy with a list of huge games under his name has decided to reach out to fans to craft a sequel to his company's 1988 title "Wasteland" (Over view of title here). "Fallout" before Fallout existed, Wasteland followed a very similar style (albeit a bit pulled back in visuals due to the hardware of the time) and was actually a predecessor to Fallout itself. Due to legal reasons (EA owned the Wasteland trademark, which in 2003, Fargo bought from them) when Fargo and team worked on Fallout 1 and 2 (yes they also created fallout) they simply couldn't use the wasteland name. Anyways, he has brought together a superb "A-List" team of developers (Alan Pavlish, Michael A. Stackpole, Ken St. Andre and Composer Mark Morgan) to help him with the project and is asking fans for $900,000 to get the project going; explaining that it costs a lot to get a game off the ground and that he wouldn't take any kind of salary or payment from the donations for the project.

Seeing as the page opened just a few hours before and it's already got nearly $300,000 in pledges... I'll bet that it'll reach it's goal of $900,000 much like Double Fine did their $400,000 mark. Perhaps we'll even see that number surpassed much like Double Fines.

(Link for those not reading at my blog)

Here's an interesting video on the kickstarter page that explains all of this and more (in a decent comedic tone too - the bit where they go to publishers made me laugh) and of course you can visit the page if you so choose to want to support the project. Here's hoping more smaller developers see this kind of thing take off and are able to bring back classic games of our past into the way they should be made without publishers changing what should be.

Ahh yeah. :)

Monday, March 12, 2012

When I'm out... these are my weapons.

So, I got home late tonight to find quite a few items out of place in my room. It was quite the mess compared to what it usually looks like. Curious, I asked my brother and he explained that 2 of my little cousins had come by for a visit. "They didn't touch my Vita did they?" was the first thing that came out of my mouth; thankfully they didn't :) That may sound a little harsh... but... little kids and expensive tech just don't mix well IMO... well... these little kids at least. (Last time I let them mess with my stuff... the middle click button on my ipod classic broke :|.

Soz, anyways, I went about the task of tidying up, putting stuff away and noticed that a lot of my handheld gaming devices were strewn across the room. After collecting them up and throwing them on my bed, I remarked "Oh, I've got more of these things than I realized" so I threw down my phone and decided to take a pic of "The pile".

From left -

Portable SNES (from Yobo - a Chinese company) you actually put SNES cartridges right in the top of it. It also doubles as a SNES that you hook up to your TV, has it's own lithium-ion rechargeable battery and wireless controllers.

DS Lite - My main DS system.

3DS - Actually my brother's 3DS, but it was in amongst the mess.

Gameboy - Got in a big ol buy from a co-worker whom had it sitting in her basement. There's a line down the side that cuts the image off, but still functional besides that.

Sega Game Gear - Ahh yeah. Gotta love stoner friends eh? Bought that and games off a friend back in high school one day he needed some cash quick.

PSP 1000 model - My original PSP. It's UMD drive bit the dust.

PSP 2000 model  - The replacement to the 1000 model.

PS Vita - Ahh yeah.

Samsung Galaxy S - Not the newest beast on the block, but it plays Plants vs Zombies and Angry Birds... so it's gold in my books :P

Kind of a pointless blog, sure. But w/e, I thought I'd share.

Friday, March 09, 2012

4 Days left to help fund Double Fine's new adventure

I first crafted a blog post nearly a month ago about the (then) new kickstarter page that Double Fine put up to gather $400,000 to help fund a new adventure game that harkened back to the adventure games of old. It's since caught wildfire and fans have come out in droves to show their support. The studio has collected over $2.5 million from over 72,000 backers of the project which has helped grow the project to a much bigger scale than they could of imagined.

Initially, they planned on using the $300,000 ($100,000 was to go to the documentary team whom is filming the entire development process) to make a small, relatively pulled back title for the PC without any plans for spoken language, or multiple written languages... but Tim Schafer has come out and said that the extra money gathered has allowed them to confirm that the project will indeed have spoken dialogue, have it's text translated into a number of languages (French, Spanish, German and Italian) and be making it's way to Mac, Linux and some iOS/Android devices.

Multiple rewards have also been added to the mix, with various pledge levels. The $100 pledge in particular includes a T-Shirt, Poster and the game in an old school PC title box (like those that Day of the Tentacle or Grim Fandango came in) with game and documentary on separate discs. Higher pledge levels gets you niftier gear for your generosity, but even the smallest $15 pledge will give you access to a copy of the game when it ships.

Schafer has made a new video detailing some things fans were asking about and to bring attention to the upcoming deadline (Tuesday, March 13th) in hopes to raise as much money as they possibly can. So, if you were interested in donating to the project but haven't gotten around to it just yet, you've got 4 days left :P

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Waiting on Mass Effect 3... what to do...

Finish up some ME2 DLC of course. I knew I wanted to go through the 'Lair of the Shadow Broker' DLC that I purchased on XBL ages ago (and never got to) and I got word last night that my copy of Mass Effect 3 was on it's way... so I spent today jumping back in to ME2 to clear up a few loose ends.

I loaded up my old save, which hasn't been touched since some time in 2010, back when I finished the game and took a few minutes to get use to the game again. Once I did, I poked around the Normandy, talked with it's characters (in my save I rescued them all, something I was super proud of at the time) and checked in on my journal to see what was new. One mission is all that was left, and it just so happened to be that of the Shadow Broker DLC I mentioned above. I guess I spent some time clearing even the smallest of side quests in 2010.

Anyways, I jumped into the DLC mission and was uber-happy to have Liara back on my team. Liara and Garrus are my fave characters thus far in the series and to have her missing for 99% of ME2 really made me sad. Sure the other characters were f'n great, but I still missed Liara, especially since she was my "romance" choice from the first game. I heard, however, that the DLC in question allowed you to reconnect in some way, with her and that she was set to return to the squad in ME3 which is really what pushed me to play the DLC. I finished the DLC with a smile on my face, Liara is back! :) (Okay, technically she's still doing her own thing, but w/e).

Not content with that, I went and downloaded the Kasumi - Stolen Memory DLC pack (that I got on sale at one point) and it just finished downloading as I was writing this. So, I'll be able to jump into that as soon as I post this short blog. I'm rather excited to have more ME content to play and I honestly can't wait for my copy of ME3 to arrive (which should be tomorrow as it was sent out via courier last night... which made me assume it'd be here today, but I guess tomorrow will be the day). 'The Arrival' DLC is downloading as we speak, I hope to have all of them finished when ME3 does show up.

Monday, March 05, 2012

You got your Portal in my Mario!

What's better than playing classic NES mario or Valve's Portal? How about mashing them together into one wicked sick game called Mari0? Thanks to those behind this is now a reality.

For Windows, Mac OS or Linux.


  • Complete recreation of SMB
  • Elements from Portal
  • Portal gun that shoots portals
  • 4-player simultaneous co-op
  • Level Editor that was used to create the levels in the game
  • 33 different hats
  • Downloadable Map packs
  • Game modifiers for extra fun


Saturday, March 03, 2012

Valve and Steam entering the console race?

This really just made my eyes widen. There are solid rumors floating around that Valve want's to brand their own box (for the home entertainment market) as a console competitor, built around their Steam service.

Valve co-founder Gabe Newell even recently told Penny Arcade: "Well, if we have to sell hardware we will."

Apparently meetings were held during CES to demo a hand-built version of the device to potential partners. We're told that the basic specs of the Steam Box include a Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, and an NVIDIA GPU. The devices will be able to run any standard PC titles, and will also allow for rival gaming services (like EA's Origin) to be loaded up.

The Steam Box could be unveiled at GDC, though we're also hearing that the company may wait until E3 this year to show off what it's been working on.

If true, it seems the big three console manufactures have some stiff competition coming along.