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Halo: Fireteam Raven Review October 2, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Reviews.
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Earlier this Summer, the latest game in the Halo saga was released at all Dave and Busters arcade restaurants across the United States. I’m talking of course about the arcade game, Halo: Fireteam Raven. Today, we will be reviewing it!

Halo: Fireteam Raven is an on-rail four-player light-gun arcade shoot-em-up! In it, you play one of four possible members of Fireteam Raven, an elite group of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers (ODSTs) who must survive on the Halo ring discovered by the crew of The Pillar of Autumn during the events of the first Halo game. What happened on other parts of the ring while Master Chief was fighting? Will Fireteam Raven cross paths with the Master Chief? Our policy against posting spoilers in our reviews forbid us from telling you!

Before the game starts, you’ll need to know a few things, especially if you play Halo games on Xbox Live. Halo Waypoint is the official website for the latest Halo news, but you can also use it for tracking your online Halo statistics. Now that Halo: Fireteam Raven has been released, the team responsible for making the game want its arcade players to be able to post their in-game statistics and compare them online. To record your Halo: Fireteam Raven statistics you’ll need to sign into your Xbox Live account on the website, select the Halo: Fireteam Raven Service Record tab and tell the site to generate a QR code. You will need that QR code on your Smartphone Screen before you play the game.

To start the game you can pick one of four possible positions you wish to aim from. In front of each of the player seats is a mounted light gun controller and a SmartPhone scanner. Take your Smartphone out of your pocket, load up the Halo Waypoint website, and pull up the QR code from the Fireteam Raven Service Record page. You’ll need to put your Smartphone face down on the code scanner before putting in your Power Up card to pay for the game to start. If everything went correctly, your GamerTag will appear on your character’s Heads-Up-Display when the game launches. The first time we played the game our stats did not link properly as we started to play but for some reason they incorrectly linked with a new player who started at another position. With no other alternative, we ended up switching our playing positions. Later plays on a different station at a different location gave us no issues signing in.

The game has six missions, with each mission averaging around twenty minutes of gameplay and cutscenes. Over the course of the game you’ll wield many of Halo’s iconic weapons including the Pistol, Assault Rifle, Needler, Plasma Pistol, Rocket Launcher, Shotgun and Plasma Rifle. Each active player can aim their weapon with an on-screen crosshair with a color that matches the character seat they chose. You can fire your main weapon with the trigger buttons. If you have a grenade it can be fired with the thumb buttons. Small arms have to be reloaded, but if the player takes control of a rocket launcher or turret they will not have to reload, and these sections are where the game really shines. We won’t spoil anything but we will say this, after completing the final level, make sure to look above for a nice little touch.

Before we talk about Fireteam Raven’s gameplay let’s talk about its technical specs. The game takes place during the events of Halo: Combat Evolved and uses high-resolution graphical assets from Halo: Reach and Halo: Anniversary to display to two enormous 2K screens. Technically, because the game makes use of two side-by-side 2K screens, the game’s completed image technically is in 4K. I can attest the framerate, while smooth most of the time, is not entirely smooth a hundred percent of the time. To compensate for these moments, the vertical sync will tear. However at no point did I ever notice input lag and my controller never went out of sync with the crosshairs on the screen.

Make no mistake, this is an arcade game and like all arcade games this game is a credit sucker. Regardless of how good your aim is, some damage you just won’t be able to miss. In fact, I was averaging spending around two and a half credits per level. If that might be a little too much for you, I recommend signing up your e-mail address for Dave and Buster’s Rewards. Rewards members occasionally receive e-mails for free gameplay credits with purchase. If you don’t want to do that, you can always consider going on a Wednesday when game prices are slashed in half. Regardless, Halo fans need to seek this game out as soon as possible. Just make sure to register your Xbox Live GamerTag with Halo Waypoint before you do because if you don’t, you’ll miss out on all the rewards playing the game will earn you.

What is probably the biggest shame is that the release of this game is as limited as it is. You can’t currently buy it on any PC or console, and many people do not have a Dave and Busters arcade/restaurant near them. That’s compounded by the factor that Microsoft has no major exclusive game coming to PC or Consoles this holiday season. Also the fact that it makes use of two screens can limit our experience if it ever is ported to home media. That all having been said if you’re a Halo fan or just a fan of good light-gun games you need to seek this game out right now.

Halo: Fireteam Raven is out now exclusively in Dave and Busters arcades.

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Date Nite – Making of a Tomb Raider Review September 12, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Date Nite, Reviews, Site Videos.
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Tonight, Cinemark theaters across the US held a special one-night-only event and Maniac attended it. Making of a Tomb Raider was a special documentary in the same vein as shows like Ultimate Beastmaster and Ultimate Ninja Warrior. A professional athlete and base jumper was tasked to replicate some of the same challenges Lara Croft made famous in her classic games. People who attended the premiere were promised exclusive DLC that could be used in the full retail version of the game.

So how was the documentary? Was it worth the price of a full movie ticket? What did everyone else in the theater think of it? Were there any issues at the theater? Watch our exclusive review below and find out.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider is coming September 14th, 2018 for PC, Xbox One and PS4.

Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire 2018 Review Part 1 July 10, 2018

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The Midsummer Fantasy Renaissance Faire 2018 just wrapped up this past Sunday. It has been held at the Warsaw Park in Ansonia, CT for several years now and we have been attending them for quite a while. Unlike other Renaissance Faires that pride themselves on historical accuracy, the MFRF draws its inspiration from J.R.R. Tolkien, Dungeons & Dragons, Final Fantasy, and even Pokémon.

We have previously reviewed MFRFs from 2015 and 2016. Upon popular request, we’re going to review this year’s event! Buckle in, because we’re going to be taking about almost every aspect of this year’s faire. That includes the event’s story, the acts, the food and the vendors! Enjoy!

Stay tuned for Part 2 where we talk about last Saturday night’s epic Fireworks Finale!

Justice League: Battle For Metropolis Review June 5, 2018

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I know what you guys are thinking, this is a website about gaming and video games, what am I doing reviewing a theme park ride…again. Well, relax because while this is a theme park ride, its origins date back to classic arcade games. That’s right, today we are going to review the new 3D dark ride Justice League: Battle for Metropolis!

Justice League: Battle for Metropolis is an interactive 3D dark ride found in Six Flags parks. We rode on the one currently at Six Flags: Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ. It is in the DC-themed area of the park near Batman: The Ride, The Dark Knight Coaster, and the upcoming ride Cyborg: Cyber Spin. Honestly, it’s in a perfect place. The area is made up to look exactly like it had in the Superfriends cartoon series, with the same fountain right out front.

I have heard of others opening at seven other Six Flags parks across the US, but we will specifically be reviewing the one in Six Flags Great Adventure. Great Adventure’s version of the ride does not include an appearance by Harley Quinn, who I heard appears in Six Flags Magic Mountain’s version. If the ride ever gets changed, or Great Adventure decides to add Harley Quinn, we will post an update to this review. With that all out of the way, let’s take a closer look at the ride itself!

The Ride Building

The ride’s theming was incredible for a Six Flags ride. The ride building looked exactly like the Hall of Justice first featured in the SuperFriends cartoon, a replica of Cincinatti’s Union Terminal. Inside the building held a queue line where banners hung from the walls, and the words written on each of the banners held an ideal by one of the Justice League’s members. At the end of the main entrance hall was a marble statue of three of the League’s founding members, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman.

Inside the building, the ride’s preshow video begins to play and riders get a taste of what is at stake for the Justice League. Lex Luthor has teamed up with the Joker to bring down the Justice League once and for all. To do this, the Joker was planning to blanket the city with his trademark laughing gas. As the show shifts to the Justice League, we find out the Justice League has an antidote to their gas, and they were planning to administer it to a volunteer group of recruited citizens they need to watch their backs.

The preshow videos are animated using 3D character models, and the models are dubbed over with voice actors. I had a bit of a problem with the decision for the park to use 3D character models for the pre-show videos. It sure sounded like Six Flags was able to get the voices of actors like Mark Hamill and Kevin Conroy for the ride, because if they didn’t whoever they did get to do the voices sounded exactly like them. On the other hand, I felt a little conflicted about the 3D animation used for the preshows. It looked like they were going more for a Batman: Dark Tomorrow look than The Dark Knight or Batman: The Animated Series artistic style. For those of you unfamiliar with Batman: Dark Tomorrow, it was a terrible Batman game made for the Xbox and GameCube. Given the age of those consoles, I felt the 3D designs used in the ride were just too simple for me. This may have been done to better integrate the preshow’s art style into the style of the ride itself (since it is real-time 3D), but I would have loved to see a more complex and detailed 3D art style for the ride, like something out of Injustice 2.

Once you reach the end of the line and prepare to board your ride car, you receive a briefing by an animatronic Cyborg, who gives riders their final boarding instructions. He’s portrayed by an impressive animatronic with an appearance I absolutely adored. He doesn’t walk, but he can move his arms and his mouth is capable of fully lip syncing his dialog. Cyborg’s voice sounds like his voice in the early 2000s Teen Titans cartoon, but he isn’t bald. His on-ride appearance reminded me of his design from the Titans comics of the 1980s, which are still considered by many to be some of the best comics of the era. Feel free to give him a boo-yeah! before you leave.

The Ride

Justice League: Battle for Metropolis is an interactive 3D dark ride that feels a bit like a cross between Universal’s Spider-Man and Disney’s Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters rides. Each guest needs to grab a pair of 3D glasses before boarding. Each cart can carry a maximum of six riders. As the ride pulls out, the player is greeted by an announcement by Cyborg. He has a cure for the Joker gas, and a puff of smoke is released he says will make us immune to its effects. The ride car moves through the blue fog, and the fun begins.

We’re presented with an interactive 3D screen where Lex Luthor and his robotic drones begin attacking the Justice League. The riders are told to pull out the interactive blasters in front of them and defend the league. To make it easier to play, each player has a unique color beam, and the color you’re assigned is dependent on where you’re sitting in the ride car. Don’t worry, you’ll figure out very quickly which beam is yours. Any Lexbots successfully targeted will disintegrate, and the player who hit it will get a boost to their score.

I don’t want to say too much more about the ride’s story due to our site policy of avoiding spoilers during reviews. While the ride features a combination of 3D screens and live-action sets, we are fairly certain only the 3D screens are interactive. That means shooting at a certain very impressive animatronic villain will not improve your score. During the ride, you’ll be transported from setpieces like the exterior of the Hall of Justice, a Jokerized Star Labs, and the Metropolis underground. You’ll even battle alongside Justice League members like Batman, The Flash, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Supergirl.

The ride ends with the riders receiving a combined final score, and a ranking of the top players, demoted by their picture. Impressive top scores will be rewarded with congratulations to denote how the scores matched up with their database of all-time players. When the ride concludes, the guests return their 3D glasses and exit through a small DC themed gift shop.

Issues

Whatever the ride uses to calculate your blaster’s fire angle expects its user to be firing from close to the hip. When I first attempted to fire my blaster, it took me a while to figure out which laser beam was mine. I then realized my beam was slightly off center because I had fully extended my arm to fire, when I pulled my arm back to fire closer from my chest, the beam effect lined up perfectly with the 3D screen.

We did have only one technical issue with the ride. On our first time riding it, the final sequence would not respond to our blasters for some reason. Our inability to defend ourselves from the onslaught of Lexbots didn’t effect the ride’s story but it did hurt our chances to get a decent high score. This might have been a minor technical issue early in the day, as I rode the ride two more times later in the day and all of the screens functioned properly.

Currently, this Six Flags puts HD televisions in the queue areas outside of major rides. Normally, screens like this are used to show preshow content for the ride and get the guest pumped up for what they were about to go on, but these televisions were being used to show commercials and cartoons on what was listed as a dedicated Six Flags Entertainment Network. It sure was odd to see videos unrelated to the ride shown in otherwise decently-themed ride queues like Green Lantern or Bizarro. Justice League: Battle for Metropolis thankfully didn’t do this when I rode on it, but we did see Six Flags Entertainment Network marked televisions on the outside of the ride that were turned off.

Final Thoughts

I left the ride feeling like I had visited the real-life Hall of Justice. Six Flags made it clear they had a lot of pride in Battle for Metropolis, and the ride was a lot of fun. A lot of money must have went into developing the ride at the highest quality possible, and it shows. The animatronics, software and effects hold up great. It’s a fun ride that leaves guests eager for a second or even third visit.

I’m not too worried about the ride’s current 3D keeping up with the times as the live-action sets look fantastic and the CGI on the 3D screens will probably be updated as time goes on. There are some damn good live-action set-pieces, real fire/smoke effects and realistically styled animatronics to blend in perfectly with the 3D screens. The 3D/live-action blend isn’t as seamless as Spider-Man, but the fact that it is interactive and has live action elements gives it a big leg up over rides like Toy Story: Midway Mania! In fact, having ridden both I would pick Justice League Battle for Metropolis over Toy Story Midway Mania as the better interactive 3D experience. We drove three and a half hours to visit Six Flags Great Adventure and ride this ride, and we were not disappointed in the slightest.

If you’ve never been to Six Flags Great Adventure, we made this little video about our day at the park and on the ride, enjoy.

In the future, it might be cool to see Great Adventure add Magic Mountain’s Harley Quinn cameo to the ride as an update, and if that happens we will be there. Until then, I recommend you check it out yourselves. If you are a comic fan, a gamer or just a fan of well-themed dark rides, give it a chance.

The Fall – Nintendo Switch Review May 15, 2018

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In 2014, developer Over the Moon released The Fall for various console and computer platforms. I must admit, I regret missing out on playing it when it was initially released. A few months ago, Over the Moon released The Fall Part 2: Unbound on multiple platforms including the Nintendo Switch. The game’s trailer impressed me, but I was hesitant to give it a closer look without first looking into the original game. It seems the developers read my mind. Last week, Over the Moon and Nintendo have released The Fall on the Nintendo Switch and we are going to review it!

Editor’s Note: A digital copy of The Fall was provided to us by the publisher.

Art & Graphics

The first thing that grabs you about the game is just how it looks. The art style and the themes of the game are what really set it aside from other independent titles, because the game is beautifully dark. It’s art style harkens back to games like Limbo, but with a distinct sci-fi style. Fans of DOOM and Dead Space will just love it.

We did have one minor issue with the graphics which could be described as a problem with what was clearly an artist decision with how to present the game’s main menu. When you first launch the game, the menu appears distorted. This is to show the player that they’re playing from the perspective of a damaged machine. On the one hand it’s a great way to set an initial mood, on the other it can fool the player into thinking their Switch is broken! (Don’t worry, it’s not). We respect the artist’s decision to start the game this way, but it can be a little jarring on the Switch. When I booted up the game for the first time, I was legitimately concerned my screen was actually cracked. That is probably a testament to how good the artist’s ability to make a cracked screen is.

Gameplay & Controls

The Fall is a 2D adventure and exploration game. You move your character through the 2D environment, search for interactive points, and defend yourself with a sidearm when necessary. Players who loved Super Metroid will feel right at home with this kind of game, and I would not be surprised if the developers saw that game as an inspiration for The Fall. The player can move, jump, climb, and aim from the start of the game, and you’ll spend the majority of the first level getting used to the controls.

Once you get a working sidearm, a big portion of the game’s features unlock for the player, and the controls will adjust to accommodate your new abilities. You’ll need to get used to new features like firing your sidearm, taking cover, and cloaking quickly if you want to survive. When a new mechanic is added, the game will pause to give you a brief tutorial on the mechanic. The game will resume once you’ve mastered it.

The game also has a dialog system. Occasionally, you’ll find other characters in the game world you’ll be able to talk to. You’ll need to interact with these other characters using dialog boxes. This will help you learn more about the game’s world or give hints to solving puzzles.

Story

The story is heavily inspired by the work of Isaac Asimov and it explores concepts like duty and purpose for an artificial intelligence. Your directive is to save your pilot, and to do that you must seek medical attention for them on an unfamiliar world. However, the actions you will need to take to complete that directive will require you to bend the basic rules your creators programmed in you. It’s a simple premise that’s easy to empathize with.

Performance

The Fall can be played on the Nintendo Switch in either tablet or television mode. We spent the majority of review time playing the game in television mode. For the most part, the game runs well but we did notice a minor issue with it. When running in certain areas while the Switch is docked the game does not run completely smoothly. These dropped frames didn’t effect our enjoyment of the game. Heck, we had a similar issue when playing The Stick of Truth on the Xbox 360.

Conclusion

If you haven’t played The Fall the first time around, or you have already played the game and you absolutely love it, pick it up again on the Switch. It’s only $9.99 US, and well worth the cost. I never played the game when it originally came out, but I can tell you that playing it for the first time on the Switch made me very interested in checking out the sequel.

The Fall is out now for Wii U, PS4, Xbox One, PC, Linux, Mac, Nintendo Switch.

ThinkGeek Light Up LED Dice Set Review May 8, 2018

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Any geek worth their salt is familiar with the website ThinkGeek.com. They distribute geeky clothing, collectibles and more through their website. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at one of their exclusive products…in glorious 4K.

My Dungeons & Dragons playing readers know that good, fair dice are an important component to a fun gaming experience. Previously, ThinkGeek sold an exclusive D20 that lit up when the die landed on 20. Now, they’re selling an entire set of light-up dice, and we are going to take a closer look at them. To keep the dice fair their internal batteries cannot be replaced, but we knew that before buying them. Let’s take a closer look and see if they’re worth it.

Don’t Die Mr Robot DX Review May 3, 2018

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We’re doing our first ever review of a Nintendo Switch game on this website and we could not be happier about it. Don’t Die Mr Robot DX is an addictive downloadable game which harkens back to the kind of retro arcade machines that gobbled up your quarters in the 1980s! Now it’s out on the Nintendo Switch and thanks to the publisher, we got our hands on it. I just want to say this game can get crazy. How crazy you ask? Well, here’s the trailer, take a look for yourselves.

Gameplay

Every level starts you off controlling Mr Robot on a virtual battlefield. Players of games like Defender or Asteroids will recognize it immediately. You move Mr Robot around the field with the analog stick or direction buttons. Enemies spawn in as the game clock starts to tick. You can hurt enemies by picking up fruit, which will also spawn on the battlefield as time goes on. You’ll need to avoid crashing into enemies because if you’re hit just once, the level ends.

There are multiple modes in the game, including an arcade mode, time attack and a special remix mode. Every level is different, with a different objective and a different criteria for scoring. We spent most of our game time trying out the Remix Mode, working on the best way to improve our scores and earn better trophies. It was a blast, and since you need to earn quality trophies to unlock later remix modes, you’ll want to play each level to your best ability

Upgrades

While defeating enemies, you’ll pick up gold coins on the battlefield. Every coin you earn in-game can be used to unlock new in-game skins and clothing items for Mr. Robot. Items you can purchase include new colors, hats and accessories. The price for everything is pretty steep and you may have to replay some of your favorite levels to earn enough coins for something like a new outfit, but eventually you will earn what you need. Thankfully, the game does not make use of microtransactions, so everything you unlock in the game is done with your own hard work and perseverance.

Final Thoughts

Don’t Die Mr Robot DX is an addictive well made game that will keep players invested for quite a long time. Console gamers who played Geometry Wars on the Xbox 360 for hours trying to get a slightly higher score will feel right at home playing it. The best part was that while the action is fast-paced, we didn’t notice any slow down or latency while playing the game in handheld mode. In fact, Don’t Die Mr Robot DX is the perfect game to take on the go while your Switch is in handheld mode, and that is how we preferred to play it.

The final question is always if the game is worth the price. Given the scope of its unlockable content, replayable game modes and addictive gameplay, I believe the game is fully justified in its $8.99 US price point. It should be up on the Nintendo Switch, eShop as we speak. If you love retro arcade gameplay, give it a look.

Don’t Die Mr Robot DX is out now for the Nintendo Switch.

Maniac’s Kitchen – Pocky Almond Crush Review April 28, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Maniac’s Kitchen, Reviews, Site Videos.
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Welcome back to Maniac’s Kitchen, where we review and share recipes for some of the best foods for gamers. Today, we’ll be talking about a staple of the Otaku diet, Pocky.

I’ve seen Pocky sold in large quantities at anime and fan conventions for the past decade, because it’s from Japan and tastes great. I never tried it myself until ConnectiCon 2015. Now, it’s common to see Pocky sold in local corner stores, and I’ve got a new flavor to try. Let’s see how we like Pocky Almond Crush.

Maniac’s Kitchen – McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce Review March 5, 2018

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Welcome back to Maniac’s Kitchen, where we cook or review all kinds of food for gamers. This week, Maniac got some take-out food from McDonald’s, and today we’re going to be looking at Szechuan Sauce. It was originally created to promote Disney’s Mulan, but there’s been a high demand to bring it back after the start of Rick and Morty season three. An earlier attempt to do a smaller promotion for it failed miserably, but now it has a wider release and we got our hands on some earlier today.

Is it as good as Rick says it is? Let’s find out.

Maniac’s Kitchen – Cup Noodles Beef Flavor Review January 25, 2018

Posted by Maniac in Maniac’s Kitchen, Reviews, Site Videos.
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Welcome back to Maniac’s Kitchen, where we are back with a new review of the ultimate gamer’s foods. Today, we will be looking at the Beef Flavored Cup Noodles. How easy is it to make and how does it compare to Chicken flavor? Watch and find out!

Don’t forget to save your receipt if you plan to participate in the Dissidia Final Fantasy NT promotion! More videos from Maniac’s Kitchen are on the way, post a comment below with what you’d like to see.