Josh Boykin

 

  • Josh Boykin wrote a new post, Review | Magicka 2, on the site GotGame 1 week ago

    Magicka had a fun premise when it released: mix elements together to create various and powerful spells to use against enemies.

    However, what really made the game worthwhile to keep playing was the co-op. […]

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    Attending my first E3 felt like something out of a dream; as a gamer, E3 felt a bit like a lengthy daydream: three days of nothing but games, the people who make games, and the people who love the games and the […]

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    Playing Inside My Radio feels like a blending of minimalist-platformer 140 and roguelike rhythm-game Crypt of the Necrodancer; you’ll need to perform jumps, dashes, and other maneuvers to the beat of the […]

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    With survival sandbox games like DayZ, Don’t Starve, and State of Decay taking up plenty of time in gamers’ days, there’s interest in the market for a new take on the genre. Studio Wildcard thinks it has […]

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    EDIT: Originally the story said there is no crafting in SmuggleCraft; in fact, there will be a crafting system used to create new ship parts used to customize the hovercraft. Also, Ben Triola was noted as a lead […]

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    I lived in the St. Louis-area for a few months this past year; during that time I was lucky enough to check out the PixelPop Festival; a new convention with a large focus on games, game development, and music. […]

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    Mortal Kombat X is the bloodiest entry in the franchise, but the gore won’t be exclusive to the big screen: Netherrealm’s newest fighter released on iOS today, with an Android release in the future. Taking nods […]

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    Adventure games are coming back into vogue, particularly with the success of Telltale Games’ Walking Dead games and high-profile releases like the classic Grim Fandango Remastered. Point-and-click adventure […]

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    I feel a twinge of guilt every time I see the Cognition series from Phoenix Online Studios in my Steam queue; Phoenix Online brands itself as a company focused on story, and I always love a game with great […]

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    As one of the industry’s biggest franchises, Call of Duty’s reputation generally precedes it. One of the grandparents of modern-era first-person shooters (alongside Halo), many fans worried that the franchise […]

  • Josh Boykin and Profile picture of Steve MastersSteve Masters are now friends 8 months ago

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    Bioware releases the expansive RPG Dragon Age: Inquisition next week, but today’s the day for anyone who wants an in-depth look at Inquisition’s multiplayer component. Starting at 10am PST/1p EST on Twitch, […]

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    Sick of sitting around, watching someone else take on the detective work? Frogwares’ newest title, Crimes and Punishments: Sherlock Holmes, puts you in control of Holmes, Watson, and their faithful dog, Toby, […]

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    Frequently mysteries are just about finding out “whodunit,” and that particularly holds true in mystery adventure games. But Frogwares’ newest entry in the Sherlock Holmes series, Crimes and Punishments: […]

  • NoScope Hydra and Orion

    Maybe it’s a symptom of years spent in front of various screens throughout my life, but I’m realizing that my eyes put in some serious work over the course of a day of writing and gaming. “Gamer glasses,” special glasses with yellow lenses to ease eye strain, aren’t new, but NoScope as a company somewhat is. I reviewed their Demon Series specs earlier this year: though they rivaled competitor brand Gunnar Optiks due to their build quality and affordability, I really wanted some different lens and frame styles for work in addition to play. Enter NoScope’s two new glasses: the metal-infused “Hydra,” and the office-friendly “Orion.” I’ve spent a couple of weeks with them both, and they’re a great step forward in the NoScope line.

    NoScope’s biggest appeal compared to Gunnar is price; where the cheapest pair of Gunnars sets you back roughly US $70, NoScope’s Demon Series are $20. These use a plastic frame and plastic lenses that offers some slight magnification and the classic yellow filter. They’re reliable, but the frame can feel a bit cheap, and the lenses are fingerprint magnets. You’ll have no safe-haven from the fingerprints with either new model, as they use the same lenses, but those looking for an upgrade from the Demon Series’ “all-plastic chic” can use the new Hydras.

    NoScope Hydra

    Consider the Hydra more of a “Demon Series 2.0.” The lenses and frames sport a similar look, but these use a metal alloy in the frame and bridge for a sturdier feel. The Hydras also don’t wrap against the face or the back of the head as tightly, making them more comfortable for wearing over long sessions. This comes at a price: more of the peripheral vision goes unshielded, so this may be a bit of a drawback for those used to the total immersion of the Demon Series. On the point of being pulled out of immersion, the metal on the nose of the glasses reflects light, meaning they create an unsightly ghost in the bottom of your vision when a light source is on the left or right of you. This could probably be resolved with some black nail polish or paint, but it can be distracting in the middle of a game, and using a black metal or painting them before shipping would have saved a lot of trouble. Still, for fans of the Demon Series, the Hydra’s metal frames make the glasses feel sturdier as a whole, and the rubber tips on the temples help them rest easily behind the ears (did you know the arm-part of a pair of glasses is called a “temple?”). I preferred the comfort of the Hydras over the Demons, and as the NoScope “premium model,” it definitely elicits that feeling.

    NoScope Orion

    My biggest complaint with NoScope in the past was that the Demon Series specs “scream NERD GAMER” with their angled lenses and thick black frame. I hesitated to protect my eyes from harsh light at the office or at the local coffee shop (AKA “in public”). The Orion model addresses that complaint by using traditional, Aviator-style teardrop lenses. Minimalist, black metal frames wrap the outside, and rubber-coated tips shield the temples. I’ve worn them at the office a few times, and though I still get snarky comments about wearing “shooting glasses” because of the yellow tint, I definitely feel more comfortable wearing them around non-gamers. The large teardrop style also mean that the Orions cover more vision than the Hydras, but this also might be due to how closely they hug the face. My only real problem with the Orions is how short the temples are; they’re significantly shorter than either other model, and can be just a little tight behind the ears. Still, I find myself gravitating to them because of their light feel and wide coverage.

    NoScope’s aiming to put up a fight against other gaming glasses companies, and with their three models they’re putting up a good one. I also have to admit their customer service is pretty great; I let them know that my Orions shipped with a scratch on one lens, and they had another pair to me in a couple of days with no hassle. They don’t offer the prescription lenses, variety of frames, or varied lens styles that Gunnar does, but NoScope glasses are a fraction of the price and work just as well in all my tests. NoScope seems to be aiming to have tons more people, gamer and otherwise, reducing eye strain and making frags with their glasses in the future; with new models like these, they’re certainly on the right track even if they have some work to do.

    You can pick up the NoScope Hydras for $29.99 or the Orions for $19.99 from NoScope’s website.

  • scm_posterIf I wrote up a list of my top 25 games of all-time, a sure-fire member of that list would be Super House of Dead Ninjas. A 16-bit styled take on platforming, you play as the ninja Nintai Ryoko as she cuts through hordes of skeletons and other monsters on her way to the bottom of a seemingly endless tower. It’s efficient, sleek, and challenging. Combine that game with the simple-yet-fun fusion of a 2D puzzler and platformer in the nearly 8-bit Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe and you’ve established Adult Swim Games as one of my favorite game publishers in the industry. Super Comboman, in contrast, tries to make a somewhat modern 2D brawler, but it lacks the focus or polish that made many other Adult Swim games successful.

    Super Comboman tries to fuse a combo-based brawler with absurdist-humor, but neither of them come across as well as they should have. You play through the game as Struggles, a poofy-haired, living-fannie-pack-wearing (it’s named Flappers) comic fan who realizes his mortgage is due. It’s pretty easy to tell this game won’t make too much sense as you progress, and maybe that channels more of Adult Swim’s comedic approach as of late. There are little jokes spread around the game that take some thought: load screens tell you to wait because “Your mom’s biscuits are not ready;” when you remember that Struggles’ little brother’s name is “Biscuit,” it might channel a snicker or two. But most one-liners feel off-course, like when a hammer-wielding boss says “Get ready to get the jammer hammer!” before combat…it’s easy to see where the game tries for humor, it’s just hard to see where it actually hits the mark.

    Super Comboman - Pooch

    Perhaps this is supposed to be Finn + Jake style humor, but it misses its mark more often than not.

     

    Super Comboman’s biggest issue is its lack of consistency on all fronts. Plot-wise, Struggles, takes a job with DoDoCo and completes tasks to earn a paycheck…except “completing tasks” involves beating up all the construction workers and randomly-placed boxers you see on the way to your goal. Struggles sees his comic-book idol Super Comboman running through some stages and chases after him, but in the very next level he’ll simply accomplish a DoDoCo-delivered task with no mention of his hero. I still feel like the team at Interabang Entertainment tried to channel the wackiness that makes hit TV show Adventure Time so successful, but Adventure Time pulls off its craziness because there’s substance at its core; neither the writing nor the gameplay of Super Comboman provide that reinforcement.

    From a pure gameplay perspective Super Comboman offers some neat features, but too many bugs. One of my favorite features is the combo-based powerup system: you can equip two special powers, with one activating when you get either 30 or 60 hits in a combo. The combo system itself is pretty forgiving; you can get hit and still continue your combo, and punching inanimate objects keeps your chain going when traveling between groups of enemies. It’s a novel system, but it’s not enough to carry the engine through its rough patches.

    Super Comboman - Combo

    2PC+Biscuit….it’s a combo…

    The developers at Interabang Entertainment have worked to patch Super Comboman since its release, but even now it still suffers from glitches and imprecise controls. Powerups are available for purchase in the in-game store using currency gained from beating baddies, but there’s no guarantee that the Hadoken will execute with the prototypical down -> forward -> action input, that the dash through move will actually take you through an enemy, or that the auto-counter powerup will actually counter incoming attacks. Admittedly, Super Comboman has come a long way since launch by improving hitbox recognition and making small tweaks to ease the game from its previously brutal difficulty. Still, there’s a long way to go before the game feels refined enough for the big time.

    After putting multiple hours in to the game, I just couldn’t find anything to motivate me to keep playing. Each stage gives you a bronze, silver, or gold cookie-medal at the end based on your score, but more often than not I received gold medals without really trying. Using unlocked power-ups felt underwhelming when I could actually get them to execute. There are stickers spread around each level to collect, but they don’t unlock anything or add lore to the game’s story. And, most personally frustrating, I just felt no concern about Struggles or his “struggle,” even though the cutscenes and banter made it seem like I should. Sure, there’s something humorous about a game that makes you bust open a toilet, then see the main character shout “Holy poop nuggets!” as the contents of the toilet spew around the room, but it’s just not enough to drive a game forward. With some continued patching and tweaking of the game engine it could be another great Adult Swim game. Right now it’s just a struggle.

    Final Score: 2.5 out of 5

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    Endless runners are an interesting genre. Titles like Temple Run and Flappy Bird made the score-challenging gamplay famous, but other developers have tried to add depth with stories and compelling atmosphere: […]

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