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How To Host a LAN Party December 30, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Editorials.
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With New Year’s Eve creeping up on us, what better way for us gamers to spend quality time with each other than by having one huge gaming party, and trust me there’s no better way to celebrate our love for gaming together than by hosting a kick ass LAN Party!

For those of you who don’t know what a LAN Party is, it is an event where gamers get together in the same location, network their PCs or game consoles together on a local network using LAN or System Link, and play multiplayer games with your closest friends.  There are a lot of benefits to playing locally as opposed to playing your games online.  You won’t need a Playstation Plus or Xbox Live Gold account to play your game locally, you can communicate with other members of your team easier as they will be right next to you, and finally the connection speed is much faster to play local than if you were to play online.

If you’re planning to host a LAN Party for the first time, here is some information that you may need in order to host the best LAN Party possible.  Trust me, I’ve hosted plenty and attended a few.  If you want to host the best, here are some tips on how to keep all your guests happy and have a great time.

First off, you’re going to need to set up in advance before even the first guest arrives.  Your job as a host is to provide each player with enough space to play, power, and a network they can plug their systems into.  That means pulling out all the folding tables, chairs, routers, and switches you can get your hands on.  You will want to use the biggest room in your house for this, but if you must, there is nothing wrong with playing in your basement so long as there’s no risk of water leaking down there.  Make sure that whatever room you use has plenty of wall outlets.  It’s not a good idea to daisy chain surge protectors as you may end up overloading the room’s power requirements and cause the room to black out.  If users are bringing PCs, make sure they bring their surge protectors with them from home and plug them directly into your wall outlets.

Now let’s talk about networking all these systems together.  Most home routers that you can find today will allow four wired connections.  If you plan to host more people, you’re going to want to buy some extra switches (which can allow as many as 32 connections).  Make sure to buy gigabit (10/100/1000) capable equipment and have plenty of spare CAT-6 cable for optimal speeds.  As many games don’t even support that many simultaneous players (Halo: Combat Evolved for example only supported 16 players playing off of 4 systems), you may be able to run several different games or game tournaments at the same time, depending on how many guests are attending, and what they want to play.  Finally, even if this is a local network party, if you can provide internet access through your network, I recommend doing it.  Sometimes other users don’t have the benefit of having the most up to date versions of their games installed, and while that shouldn’t be an issue, I have noticed that different versions of multiplayer games can be incompatible with each other.  If everyone at least has online access, they can patch their games automatically upon startup.

If you can’t get your hands on any extra switches, using a wireless network can work, although just be aware that a wireless connection is nowhere near as fast as a wired one.  Most modern consoles and laptops have built-in wireless network capability out of the box, but a lot of the first generation hardware will not.  If you plan to have everyone play wirelessly, just tell your guests to check in advance how old their system is and to determine before the party starts if they will need to get a wireless adapter before bringing their systems over.

Your other job is to make sure there is enough food and refreshments for everyone who may be attending.  Finger food works best, as having a sit down meal can distract from gameplay.  If your guests would like to bring food for everyone, let them, but you may need to have a kitchen ready to warm up anything they may have brought.  Common etiquette is to keep the food area separate from the gaming equipment, and ask everyone who may be playing to not bring food into the play area for sanitary reasons, although you can use your own discretion for beverages.

Speaking of beverages, its a really good idea to have a mini-fridge in the play area.  You can stock it with individual bottles or cans of whatever beverages you or your guests may like, and keep them cool.  Individual cans and bottles work best in a party.  Guests can simply open a fridge and grab whatever they want with less of a spill risk.  Classic LAN Party drinks include Mountain Dew, Bawls, Jolt and TAB.  You may have some guests that prefer to drink diet sodas, so don’t forget to get some diet sodas as well, but depending on your guests, I wouldn’t recommend buying more than a third of the amount of diet soda as you would buy of the regular kind.  There’s also nothing wrong with making tea, coffee or espresso for your guests if they request it and you have the resources to make it.  If you are only having adults in attendance you may wish to provide alcohol, but I have never done that.  Remember, we’re here to play games, and alcohol may impair your guests’ gaming skills.

Just because you’re the host doesn’t mean you’re expected to provide everything, so try to get players to bring their own equipment.  If they have their own consoles, great, tell them to bring them.  If they want to bring their PC or laptop, let them.  If they have their own monitors, HDTVs, or projectors they would like to bring, let them!  If you’re planning to do a console gaming party, at the very least try to get players to bring their own controllers or memory cards.  The hardest thing for people to bring with them will likely be their display.  You may have some old TVs or monitors laying around in your basement, and so long as you aren’t trying to hook them up to the PS4 or Xbox One, they should work fine.  On top of that, a lot of modern flatscreen computer monitors will offer HDMI connections, if you have any monitors that aren’t being used, they can double as gaming screens.  On top of that, since modern computer monitors are designed to have the quickest refresh rates possible, there’s less of a risk of image lag that many HDTVs can suffer from.

Okay, now that your guests are arriving, lets talk about how to set up your players.  A modern console can theoretically host as many as 4 players, wheras a PC will usually max out one player, and can take up more space than a console.  Try to get players to set up their systems in close proximity to other players who plan to play the same games.  This can make it easier for them to communicate (or trash talk) other players enjoying the same game.  This will likely be the same area where most of your network traffic will be taking place, so make sure the players in this area are connected on the same switch or router for optimal speed.

It’s always a good idea to have a dedicated system running a fighting game, regardless of whatever that game is.  Recently, Killer Instinct came out for the Xbox One and if you don’t mind only playing as a single character, it can be downloaded for free, but if you don’t happen to have an Xbox One on hand, I’m sure any decent fighting game will work.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had guests who had never played games before signed up for the latest fighting game tournament and loving every second of it.

Another possibility is to have a console dedicated for the latest rythem game, like Rock Band or Guitar Hero.  I know a lot of people probably have old instrument controllers laying around collecting dust, and this is a great time to dust them off and use them again.  I have to admit, this would be the best choice to use for a room that has a surround sound system installed.  If you have any older HDTVs you plan to use for this area, they will work, just make sure to enable GAME MODE for less latency, otherwise you may have a problem with button response time.

Don’t forget, we also had two major console launches at the end of this year.  It’s also a good idea if someone has brought the newest game console (like the PS4 or Xbox One) to connect it to the best screen in the house in case anyone who hasn’t been able to play games on that system yet will get the chance to see it for the first time in the best possible quality.  On top of that, neither the PS4 nor the Xbox One has any analog video output, and have to be connected to a HDMI-equipped HDTV to be able to function at all.  Keep that in mind if someone plans to bring one of those systems over.

Here’s some final information for you all.  Keep in mind any modern router, regardless of how many hard-wired connections the router may offer, has a maximum of 255 individual systems it can connect to.  If you plan to have more guests than that, you’ll need to be running multiple networks.

Oh and just remember, according to Fargo, a hot girl and her sister must be in attendance.  Happy New Year and have fun!

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Nintendo eShop Back Online December 29, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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After four days of being completely non functional, Nintendo has restored the Nintendo eShop on all of their supported platforms, including the Wii U and 3DS.  You should be able to access the eShop from your console to purchase and download digital games, or redeem download codes for any of the store’s content, or stream supported videos.

After doing my own experimentation with the restored shop I noticed it isn’t perfect.  It did take a bit longer than usual to log into the shop from my Wii U, and the first time I tried to patch my new copy of The Wonderful 101 failed, but succeeded on my second attempt.  However, as the day has gone on, performance in the shop has improved and I have been able to successfully browse the store’s content and stream several videos without issue.

Pokemon Bank Launch Delayed December 26, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Due to the issues we are currently having with the Nintendo eShop for the past two days, Nintendo has officially announced they are delaying the launch of the highly anticipated Pokémon Bank service until their network issues have been rectified.  Pokémon Bank was expected to launch on December 27th, 2013, tomorrow.  Since Nintendo’s eShop is not currently functional, anyone who would want to download it if it launched tomorrow would not be able to.

When launched, Pokémon Bank will allow users to transfer and store Pokémon obtained from the fifth and sixth generation Pokémon games to Nintendo’s cloud servers so they can be used in later games for a yearly fee.  You can read all the details about the service here.

No word was given when we can expect the Pokémon Bank to launch or when Nintendo Network will be back up to full capacity.  Nintendo has made it clear they are still working on the issue and hope to have the service back up and running as soon as they are able to.  We will keep you posted as this story develops.

Nintendo eShop is Down December 26, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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Since yesterday, I have been unable to log into the Nintendo eShop from either my 3DS or Wii U, and I have been reading reports coming in from all over the internet from tons of users who are having the same issue.  No, your brand new Nintendo Wii U and 3DS systems are not broken, the Nintendo eShop has been completely down since Christmas Day.

Normally having a digital marketplace down for a short period of time would not be much of an issue, except the way Nintendo has designed their consoles around this digital marketplace has made the issue all the more problematic.  Nintendo chose to bundle some of the games they are including with new hardware as digital download codes instead of physical copies.  Because the eShop is not functional, these downloadable game codes cannot be redeemed or downloaded until this issue is resolved, meaning many users may have nothing to play on their new systems for the time being.  Also some Nintendo 3DS games (like Mario Kart 7) have patched their retail versions (like the recent 1.2 patch for Pokémon X and Y), and these patches can only be obtained by downloading it through the eShop, they’re not installed automatically upon booting their games.  This wouldn’t normally be much of an issue, but some of these patches are required downloads for online play.  Anyone who hasn’t downloaded these patches before the eShop went down may not be able to access multiplayer in a game that would otherwise support it until the eShop comes back online.

Nintendo has released a statement that they are investigating the issue and for the time being they are pulling the Pokémon Bank app from the Japanese eShop.   I have also heard reports that Nintendo Network has been unable to allow new account creation for the time being, but I have not been able to confirm this independently.  Other Nintendo Network features such as Miiverse seem to be working fine on either supported platform for anyone able to log in.

We will keep you up to date on this story as it develops.

UPDATE (12/29/13):  After four days, Nintendo has reactivated the Nintendo eShop.

Killer is Dead Limited Edition Unboxing December 25, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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Merry Christmas everyone!  Maniac unboxes a present, the Limited Edition of Killer is Dead.  The game was written by Suda51, known for directing some pretty unique titles including No More Heroes, Killer 7, and Lollipop Chainsaw.

The Limited Edition of this game is interesting because it was sold at no premium price and included an 80 page art book, DLC, and a CD soundtrack.  Other similar Limited Editions will usually include exclusive DLC and no much more, this one goes well above and beyond its peers.  Let’s take a look at the goodies.

Killer is Dead is out now for the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.

Pokemon Memories December 24, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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It’s Christmas Eve!  Inspired by the success of his earlier RPG Memories video, Maniac reminisces about his memories of the game Pokémon.  Being around during the height of Pokémon fever in the late 90s, Maniac spends a half hour talking about what those times were like, how he fell out of interest with the franchise, and what perfect storm of fan created content has brought the franchise back just in time for a new generation.

If you were interested in checking out any of the content I mentioned in the video, here are some direct links:

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood Review December 23, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Reviews, Site Videos.
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Maniac reviews Max: The Curse of Brotherhood, a downloadable title for the Xbox One.  The game was made by Press Play, the same studio who made Tenticles: Enter the Dolphin for Smartphones.  What makes this review interesting is that it was done using the Xbox One’s internal DVR, the Xbox One Kinect Camera, and the Xbox One’s Upload Studio editing software.

How does the game (and the video review) stack up?  Let’s find out.

Max: The Curse of Brotherhood is out now for the Xbox One.  It will be coming to the Xbox 360 in 2014.

Maniac and Princess Angel Try Bawls Root Beer December 22, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Site Videos.
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Joined by his lovely girlfriend Princess Angel, Maniac tries Bawls Root Beer, a highly caffeinated Root Beer made by the same people who made the classic gamers drink Bawls.  How is it?   Lets find out.

Mario Warfare Part 6 December 20, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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The sixth episode of Mario Warfare, the parody series from Beatdown Boogie which examines what would happen if the trials and tribulations of the Mushroom Kingdom was a bit more realistic, has been released.  In this latest episode, we take a look at just what some of Nintendo’s most popular characters do when placed in a realistic combat envroment.  Sound unbelievable?  Honestly, you have to take a look at it for yourselves.

Did I just see a Pikachu go on a killing spree in a warzone?

Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder Trailer December 18, 2013

Posted by Maniac in Game News.
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I have to admit every once in a while I’m charmed by some of the odder games to come out of Japan and Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder certainly fits that bill.  In this game for the Nintendo 3DS you take control of a robot who needs to find specific items in the real world to add as displays for a new museum.  The only hint you’ll have is the vague outline of the object requested.

Chibi-Robo! Photo Finder is coming January 9th, 2014 exclusive to the Nintendo 3DS through the Nintendo eShop.