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Super Meat Boy Forever Review January 6, 2021

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What better way to start the New Year than with some meat?

Super Meat Boy Forever is a sequel to the independent classic Super Meat Boy. I first became aware of the original game when I watched the documentary Indie Game: The Movie, which detailed its development and release (alongside other games like FEZ). While I didn’t have the chance to play the original game back in the day I was charmed by its art style and gameplay, and upon hearing a sequel was being released my interest was peaked.

Ed Note: A review code for Super Meat Boy Forever was given to us by its publisher.

The Story

Meat Boy and his partner Bandage Girl have had their child kidnapped by the nefarious Dr Fetus (who isn’t a real doctor). Now it’s up to the player to guide them around an unbearably unsafe world in their quest to retrieve the little Nugget. Its simple, but effective and reminds me of the stories of classic 8-bit titles like Double Dragon.

Gameplay

The game’s level design is a throwback to classic 2D platformers of the NES and SNES era. Each level’s art style almost looks hand drawn, while interweaving dangerous spikes, pits and saws with the level’s art style.

Danger is everywhere. Your character is always moving forward, but you can control when your character jumps, ducks, dashes and attacks. There are a few tutorial levels at the beginning of the game which explain the mechanics, and you’ll need to learn them fast. This game is HARD. I went into it assuming it would be hard, but even I was absolutely humbled within the first set of levels. Your player character runs very, very fast, and the difference between a successful and unsuccessful jump could be down to one minor pixel. Thankfully, there doesn’t appear to be a limited life meter, but in-level checkpoints can be spaced out pretty far.

New levels can unlock new sections in the game, and there are plenty of unlockable avatars you can earn as you continue your progression. Given the precision accuracy the game demands, you can be sure you’ll be replaying certain sections so many times by the time you finally complete a level you’ll be able to replay it in your sleep.

Conclusion

I know I devoted an entire paragraph of this review to highlighting just how difficult the game is, but I know that many of you out there would consider overcoming that difficulty a badge of honor. If you are a fan of difficult platformers or have fond memories of the original Super Meat Boy and just want to play another game in that universe, you should totally pick up this game.

Super Meat Boy Forever is out now for PC and Nintendo Switch. Review is based on Nintendo Switch version which was played in tablet mode.

HP X360 Chromebook Review December 16, 2020

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I think this is the first video review we’ve done on a piece of hardware in a very long time. We spent a lot of the past four months using a Chromebook for work-related purposes, the low specs on the Dell machine we were provided at work left us with a lot to be desired. As we looked for a new computer we could do work with, HP released this Chromebook, the X360, with decent specs, and a glorious 2K touchscreen.

Let’s take a closer look at it. We’re going to tell you what the X360 is capable of, what parts of the laptop we liked and disliked, and then we try gaming on it. Someone on Twitter told me I couldn’t play Cyberpunk 2077 on a Chromebook. They were wrong.

Sam and Max: Save the World Remastered Review December 2, 2020

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As a child of the 90s one of the earliest PC games I could think of was Sam & Max: Hit the Road. The antics of a cartoon dog and crazy rabbit working as “Freelance Police” was a charming concept for an adventure game. Lucasarts teased a sequel was in development as late as 2004, but it would get cancelled. Despite incredible name recognition and fond memories of the original Lucasarts PC-game, things were not looking good for the titular duo by the early-2000s, and few people believed a new Sam and Max game would ever get released. In 2007, a small game developer called Telltale Games took a chance with creating an exclusively digitally produced episodic game based on the iconic franchise. This resulted in one of the finest adventure series of all time, Sam and Max: Save the World.

It’s now over a decade later, and Telltale Games no longer exists. The game’s distribution was picked up by the company Skunkape, who have chosen to remaster the first season of the game and rerelease it for the PC and Nintendo Switch. Let’s take a look at the game’s trailer:

Editor’s Note: A review copy for the Nintendo Switch version was provided to the site. As per the founding terms of the site we have pledged to review all games provided to us and we were more than happy to oblige the developers in this case.

Sam and Max: Save the World is an adventure game, and because of that requires the player to solve a series of complex puzzles, navigate dialog trees, and bring items from one area to another. I know that sounds like your typical adventure game, but where Sam and Max sets itself apart is with its humor. No, I’m serious, this game is FUNNY! I know the jokes for this game were written over a decade earlier, but they are still just as relevant today as when they were first written. In fact, I constantly found myself laughing and smiling at a funny quip Max, Sybil or Boscov would say, and that is something I badly needed in a year like this.

First up, I want to talk about the game’s graphics and art style. They are just incredible. Skunkape added an extra layer of shadow to all the characters and I would equate the improvement to the polish layer Industrial Light and Magic added to the 2D animations drawn for Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Max, for example, no longer has a flat white shade over his fur, but a layer of shadow that realistically changes as he walks around a scene. I think the developers struck the best balance between staying true to the original art style while still making the models fit in the next-generation. There’s also the addition of widescreen support, something the first season of Sam and Max never supported on its original PC release.

Next, I want to talk about the game controls. We played on the Nintendo Switch while in tablet mode, so we are mostly going to focus on that control system. You move with the game’s Left thumbstick, and interact with the A button. Camera angles are fixed (this is an adventure game) but the Right thumbstick can be used to cycle through selectable hotspots on the screen, such as items, characters, or doors. The inventory can be selected with the Y button. Don’t worry, you can sprint by holding down one of the trigger buttons. If you played the original game on the PC, you’ll typically remember the game’s click to select interface, and the Switch version also offers players a similar control option. While in tablet mode you can tap on an area you wish to investigate with your finger, and Sam will respond as if you selected it with the A button. It takes a little practice if you’re used to playing adventure games with a mouse and keyboard, but you’ll pick it up in no time.

You’re welcome to play the six episodes in any order you wish, although you may spoil some story revelations if you choose to play episodes out of sequence. Eventually, you’ll notice the episodes share similar story rhythm, with certain characters coming back each episode with new problems for you to solve. That said, every episode focuses on a different theme, and you may choose to play and/or replay a mission due to your personal love of that theme. Episode 2 is inspired by classic antenna broadcast television stations. Episode 4 is pure political satire, which is something that is just as relevant today as it was over a decade earlier. That Episode remains my favorite, and I’m sure I’ll replay it plenty of times this month. We have a strict no spoiler policy here for our reviews so I’ll leave it to you to discover the themes behind the other episodes for yourself.

Sam and Max: Save the World combines all six episodes of the first season of Telltale’s episodic Sam and Max series in one easy to download application for a price of $19.99 US. If you never purchased the original game and are a lover of adventure games, Sam and Max, or just hilarious stories in general, this game is TOTALLY worth the full $19.99 purchase. If already own the original game on a platform like Steam, and you want to play the remastered version, this version is worth the discounted upgrade price if only for the widescreen support and improved graphics. If you’re an original Telltale account holder, I would say ABSOLUTELY make the upgrade, as you can get the remastered game for free right now on Skunkape’s website. Personally, I’m hoping that Skunkape has the opportunity to remaster more of Sam and Max, in particular the second or third season of the game.

Sam and Max: Save the World Remastered is out now for the PC and Nintendo Switch. Max for President!

Maniac’s Kitchen – Cup Noodles Stir Fry Sweet Chili Review October 14, 2020

Posted by Maniac in Maniac’s Kitchen, Reviews, Site Videos.
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Welcome back to Maniac’s Kitchen, where we review food specifically meant to be enjoyed by gamers. Today, we are going to look into Cup Noodles Stir Fry, a newer product we just recently noticed on the supermarket shelves. Don’t fire up your kettles just yet, these aren’t cooked by boiling water. Instead you’ll need a microwave with room temperature water to fully cook them. Let’s take a look at how this goes!

We ended up buying a whole bunch more instant noodle packs this week and we are willing to review more of them if the demand is there, so post a comment below if you want to see more!

Maniac’s Kitchen – Monster Energy Drink Review September 8, 2020

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You can’t look at a picture of an event like the X Games and not see signs for Monster Energy, one of the most well known energy drinks in the US. Now, despite the fact that Halo: Infinite has been delayed until next year, Monster Energy has revealed they are doing a promotion with 343 Industries to offer in-game bonuses like Double XP and an exclusive weapon skin.

But what do I think of Monster Energy? Does it surprise you that I’ve never drank it before? Take a look and see what I think of it.

How Autospin Works on a Pokeball Plus August 24, 2020

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A while ago, we did a video for people interested in using the PokéBall Plus accessory or how it stacks up against the Pokémon Go Plus. If you haven’t seen it, you can watch that video below.

One of the major selling points of the PokéBall Plus is its ability to connect to a Nintendo Switch game, transfer a captured Pokémon into it, and using it to earn (depending on the game) items or experience points. It also works with Pokémon Go, and has the ability to catch Pokémon, hatch eggs and collect in-game goodies from PokéStops while your smart device is in standby. Since we released that video, we’ve gotten several questions about the accessory’s “autospin” feature, designed to automatically collect goodies from a passing PokéStop without the need for user interaction. We didn’t have much experience with that feature, but we have since worked a bit with the functionality and can report on how it works. So here is what needs to happen.

First off, the autospin feature only works with a PokéBall Plus, you will not be able to use it with a Pokémon Go Plus. To enable autospin, there needs to be a Pokémon inside the controller. If you bought a PokéBall Plus brand new from a retail establishment the mythical Pokémon Mew that ships with brand-new units will automatically enable the autospin functionality. However, if your PokéBall Plus is used or you transferred your Mew into a game, you’ll need to transfer a Pokémon from a Generation 8 Switch game back into the PokéBall Plus. If you don’t know how to do that, this video should help you out.

Now that you have a Pokémon inside the PokéBall Plus, autospin will be enabled. However, I must warn you it is temperamental. In the time I’ve used any of these Pokémon Go accessories, I can tell you the game has a mind of its own on what it prioritizes. It will not autospin a PokéStop, even one it is in range of, unless the game has “chosen” the PokéStop. Keep in mind under normal circumstances when using a Pokémon Go Plus or an empty PokéBall Plus, the game only focuses on one object at a time. While Pokémon Go can notify you through your accessory if it is targeting a Pokémon of a species you’ve already captured (green), a Pokémon of a species you haven’t previously captured (yellow), or a PokéStop (blue), you have no say in what it focuses on first. If the game chooses to randomly offer you the chance to capture a wild Pokémon while in range of a PokéStop, it will not autospin the stop until it has exhausted capturing all the wild Pokémon in range. Since wild Pokémon frequently congregate around PokéStops, this can be frustrating. I have occasionally spent huge amounts of PokéBalls trying to clear an area well enough for the game to set a priority to the one PokéStop in range. Even with autospin enabled, this behavior will not change.

Now, Niantic is constantly tinkering with how Pokémon Go functions with its optional accessories. From what I remember, accessories are supposed to prioritize previously uncaptured Pokémon first, and its supposed to prioritize focusing on PokéStops in the event you are out of PokéBalls but I haven’t witnessed that behavior firsthand. It is very possible Niantic could release an update that will change the game’s behavior to prioritize wild Pokémon over PokéStops, but it is just as likely if they do they could change it back to random in the update they release after that.

One final note I would like to make clear from my testing. According to official documentation, autospin only re-enables if you transfer in a Pokémon from a Let’s Go game. I can confirm autospin will function even if a Pokémon is transferred from Sword or Shield. My guess is that documentation is out of date.

Pokémon Go is out now for Android and iOS smart devices.

Pokemon Go Fest 2020 Review July 31, 2020

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One year after the game Pokémon Go was released to tremendous success, its developer made the head scratching decision to host an exclusive event for a worldwide phenomenon at a small park in Chicago, IL. Cramming so many players into a small physical area to play the most popular game in the world (at the time) might’ve not been the best idea. The event was a catastrophic failure with poor network connectivity, long lines, and poor staff communication. After the event concluded (and Niantic issued refunds) I posted a plea on this website for Niantic to consider holding their worldwide game as a a worldwide event, and not force players to have to pay travel and hotel expenses to play a game they could just as easily connect to from their own home towns. From what I was told, the following Pokémon Go Fest events were held successfully, but for some reason that eludes my logic they still required players to travel.

Due to the current worldwide pandemic, travel is no longer an option. This past weekend, Niantic actually took my advice and held this year’s Pokémon Go Fest as a worldwide event. Anyone with access to the game and a supported device would be able to participate in the event without having to travel or interact with others. This was the best possible idea I could’ve ever hoped for to hold the event. The price was $14.99 US to participate in the research event, but people who didn’t pay would still able to capture event Pokémon, participate in Raids, and battle Team Go Rocket during the two-day event. The ticket price might seem a little steep to participate in a digital event, but in comparison to not having to pay for a physical event ticket, airfare and hotel fees, it came off as a good value to me.

To get everyone excited for Go Fest 2020, Niantic held several weekly challenges and encouraged everyone to participate by making their own decorations and activity sheets. Here’s a look at some of decorations I was able to make.

Decorations

The event was held over two days with introduction videos beginning on the evening of the day before the event’s start. Here’s the official kickoff video.

Go Fest 2020 Day 1 started at 10am local time and immediately began spawning a diverse biome of recognizable Pokémon that changed on the hour every hour. Players who purchased an event ticket were given a series of exclusive challenges (and some in-game items) to unlock the event goals. A new challenge was awarded every hour, and players (including those who hadn’t paid for a ticket) could still participate. With five biomes of nearly a dozen Pokémon to represent each type, there were plenty of Pokémon to catch and evolve over the course of the day. There were only five biomes and they looped, so players who missed a biome or couldn’t catch enough Pokémon to unlock a later evolution would have multiple chances to catch up throughout the day. Raids also increased in frequency during the event, and thankfully many of the raids could be completed with just one player. The first (and only) premium challenge of Day 1 revolved around catching twenty Pokémon from each biome and participate in two raids. They also were expected to send in-game gifts and make new friends. Players were awarded PokéBalls and raid passes to help them complete the challenge.

At the same time, Niantic partnered with Pokémon Go streamers from across the web to produce some unique Pokémon Go videos players could watch during the first day’s events. They would release those videos over the course of the first day. Here’s my favorite video:

It would be time consuming but not overly difficult to complete the first day’s events. I cannot speak of any login or gameplay issues during Day 1 (short of an occasional network hiccup), and my issues probably had more to do with the fact that in my area’s cellular network I am lucky to get a single bar of reception. I can’t imagine that would’ve been the case if I was playing alongside thousands of other players in close proximity. However, Niantic’s friends list feature was having hiccups throughout Day 1. It was difficult for me at certain times of the day to send gifts to friends, or for them to send me gifts. I know that by mid-day of Day 1, many players were demanding refunds, I was not among them.

There was a mid-day quiz show that was fun to participate in. Users who participated in the stream (or merely watched it) were given a code for some extra in-game items. The quiz show made for a nice break from all the catching and battling, at least for the half hour it lasted, but it wasn’t repeated for the second day. In fact, all of the event’s official video updates were posted before Day 1 concluded, and no new video updates were posted on Day 2.

On Day 2 at 10am local time the final challenges were presented. Unlike the first day, which only had a single challenge, Day 2 posted several challenges that had to be completed in order to unlock the next one. The biomes had returned, giving players a higher chance of catching any Pokémon they missed on the first day. At the same time, Team Go Rocket was flying hot air balloons all over the world, challenging trainers to battle. The day’s premium challenges revolved around defeating Team Go Rocket, and the fact they were attacking from hot air balloons (opposed to PokéStops) made the challenge a lot fairer. Defeating the leaders gave trainers a chance to catch shadow versions of the legendary birds. Defeating Giovanni offered the opportunity to capture a Shadow Mewtwo. By the end of Day 2, if a player had successfully completed all the event challenges, trainers had the opportunity to catch the mythical Pokémon Victini.

I had a ton of fun participating in the two-day event but the event did have issues. While I can’t vouch for any connectivity problems (other than some occasional issues with the friend’s list) other people did complain of those issues. My issues had to do with the fact the event’s challenges required a player to not only have friends, but to make new ones. This was an AWFUL idea, and whoever within Niantic keeps pushing for friend making challenges should be fired. We are currently in the worst pandemic the world has seen in a hundred years, the theme of this year’s Go Fest was we finally the opportunity to play the game by ourselves within our own safe area. Every human being I know has already made their mind up whether or not they want to play the game, I cannot tell you how difficult (not to say embarrassing it was) to cycle through my phone contacts to talk to people who hadn’t checked their gift boxes in months and plead with them to clear out their gifts so I could send them more. Many of those people had quit playing Pokémon Go altogether and were not amused by my pleas. I actually had to convince my own father to start playing the game just to start the challenges on Day 2.

ED NOTE – Forcing players to make new friends and send them gifts could have been the cause of the friend’s list issues throughout the first day. It also had the side effect of swamping the game’s most well-known players with countless friend requests from unknown people. Poké Tips actually had to put a disclaimer towards the end of his recent video pleading for people not to send him friend requests. There was no need for any of it, stop forcing us to make friends Niantic.

Then there was the other issue with Go Fest Day 2. The day’s challenges (once you got past getting people to friend you) revolves around defeating Team Go Rocket. I would be neglectful if I didn’t mention Team Go Rocket already had an identical challenge event leading up to the defeat of Giovanni, and while the rewards to defeating that challenge was different, it would have been nice to see new and different challenges (or a unique storyline) specifically made for the event. That having been said, the event’s story was successful and the hovering hot air balloons made it fair and fun to complete, regardless of the fact the content wasn’t entirely unique.

The event ended with this final cinematic battle between Team Go Rocket and the leaders of Team Mystic, Team Instinct and Team Valor.

So that’s my summary of the event itself and my thoughts on the event. First off, I want to commend Niantic for hosting the event in the way they did. I never would’ve been able to participate in the event at all if they had chosen to hold it at a physical location and I hope this becomes the model for Go Fests moving forward. Now you’re probably wondering if I felt the event was worth the ticket price? I believe it was. I had a blast over the two day event, accomplishing all the tasks as quickly as I was able to. I cannot tell you how shocked I was to receive the chance to catch Shadow Mewtwo after my defeat of Giovanni, and I was very pleased to capture the legendary. The fact I have no friends willing to play the game with me, in the grand scheme of things, is pretty minor. I hope Niantic does this again for next year, if they do I’ll be certain to buy a ticket. Just don’t force me to make any friends!

Pokémon Go is out now for Android and iOS smart devices.

Maniac’s Kitchen – Deep River Ninja Ginger Potato Chips Review July 30, 2020

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Welcome back to Maniac’s Kitchen, where we review gaming foods and share recipes for gamers. Today, we’re going to highlight Deep River Snacks, which sells high quality potato chips in our region. We’ve wanted to highlight them for a while and this new Ninja Ginger flavor chip is the perfect chip to start with.

Ginger is an old-school gamer’s solution for motion sickness. With the increased use for Virtual Reality, ginger-flavored goodies are popping up everywhere. I like ginger, typically with sushi, so I figured these chips should taste great to me. Let’s try these chips out and see how they taste.

Pokemon Go Plus or PokeBall Plus – What Should You Buy January 7, 2020

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Nintendo and The Pokemon Company have announced the year’s first Pokemon Direct video will broadcast on Wednesday at 9:30am EST. That leaves me little time to give my thoughts about which currently available Pokémon Go accessory you should buy!

After Pokémon Go launched, Nintendo released a companion Bluetooth accessory called the Pokémon Go Plus which allowed players to make use of certain Pokémon Go features without having to actively run the app on their device 24/7 without putting it into standby. It cost $35US and uses a 2032 battery. A year ago, Nintendo released a new Pokémon accessory, the PokéBall Plus. It has a price of $50US and functions as a Nintendo Switch Controller (but only for Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee), a PokéWalker, and a Pokémon Go Plus.

What should you buy? Watch below and find out.

If you’d like to see more information about the Nintendo Switch functionality with Pokémon Let’s Go Pikachu and Eevee, you can watch it here.

Pokémon Go is still free to download right now for compatible Android and Apple Smartphones and Tablets.

Bawls Cherry Cola Review November 11, 2019

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It has been no secret to most long term visitors to this site we are super fans of Bawls high-caffeinated soda. It has been a staple of LAN parties everywhere for nearly two decades. Earlier this year, the company announced a new flavor was being added to their soda lineup, Cherry Cola.

Bawls was nice enough to provide us a case of their soda for this review. What do you say we try it? Just be aware we are going to say Bawls a lot…

Stay tuned we might be doing more game streaming this week with our supply of Bawls at our side!