Archive for April, 2015

My Mario Kart 8 DLC Impressions, Round 2

I regret that this year’s guest blogging week had to be cut short by one day due to unforeseen circumstances, but I do want to take a brief moment thank all six wonderful contributors for their entertaining pieces. Moving on…

It’s official: Mario Kart 8 is now the biggest Mario Kart game to date. Say what you will, Battle Mode fans, but this week’s arrival of the highly anticipated second MK8 downloadable content pack announced last year means that the latest in Nintendo’s flagship racing series boasts more content than any entry before it. The game is now bursting at the seams with 48 painstakingly rendered tracks, along with 36 playable characters and a dizzying number of karts, bikes, ATVs and the like. Given the critical and commercial success of the last DLC pack, I wouldn’t be putting any money down on this being the last update, but we are at least now at the end of what we knew was coming, and there’s a sense of finality that comes with that.

So, much like I did for the first DLC pack last November, I thought I’d share my impressions of the new stuff. Everything you’re about to read has been scientifically tested by a small but lovable bunch of teenagers and twenty-somethings over an evening of, err, healthy competition.

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It’s Hard Out Here on a Mac

As we come towards the end of another guest week, storied tech enthusiast jonwestenberg touches on a very familiar topic for many.

—Written by jonwestenberg—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

There’s a long established tradition that any kind of gaming is almost impossible when using what the kids (from the late 70’s) call an Apple Mackintosh Personal Computer. You’d be hard pressed to find any new release games that debut on Mac as well as for Windows PCs. The reasons for this are pretty varied; partly, it’s due to the wide spread dominance of Windows machines in the 90’s as the open platform was widely adopted by third party manufacturers, making the install base so much wider. Another reason is Apple’s walled garden that prevents users from upgrading or modifying their computers.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a history of Mac games development. If you’re a Halo user who hasn’t played the Bungie classic Marathon series, you’re missing out on an integral part of Halo’s development history, which is deeply rooted in that early, groundbreaking sci-fi shooter. However, it’s been a long time since Mac was a platform that supported real gaming.

As a gamer and a Mac user, I’ve been keeping an eye on Mac gaming over the past few years, and while it’s not as bleak as it once was, you’ll find that there are still enough obstacles to Mac gaming that it’s not entirely worth your while.

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Album Review: Worlds – Porter Robinson

Time for another all-too-uncommon album review, this time from guest writer, graphic artist and DJ extraordinaire Youniversal.

—Written by Youniversal—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

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Released:
August 2014
Label:
Virgin Records
Genre: EDM
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All ethereal-like.

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TRACK LISTING

1. Divinity (feat. Amy Millan)
2. Sad Machine
3. Years of War (feat. Breanne Duren & Sean Caskey)
4. Flicker
5. Fresh Static Snow
6. Polygon Dust (feat. Lemaitre)
7. Hear the Bells (feat. Imaginary Cities)
8. Natural Light
9. Lionhearted (feat. Urban Cone)
10. Sea of Voices
11. Fellow Feeling
12. Goodbye To a World

There comes a time in every conceptual cycle where the new kid on the block finds a unique answer to the age old question: “What comes next?” On August 12th 2014, 22 year old Porter Robinson released a masterpiece that used its devices to break the limitations of what the industry would consider EDM. ‘Worlds’ is a 12 piece synthpop album that takes the charm of a late 90’s 32-bit title and the flare of otaku culture, then shoves them together to produce what you could call a beautifully glitchy nostalgic mess. Using the english vocaloid AVANNA by Zero G and the help of artists such as Amy Millan and Urban Cone, Robinson guides his listeners through a universe of escapism and the unlikely relationships that blossom between reality and the digital world.

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The Importance of Film Scores

Now time for creth8, an absolute authority on film and film language who spends a lot of time in media relations and is quite a talent to boot.

—Written by creth8—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

To the casual filmgoer, it’d likely be the acting, set pieces or tone that gets discussed after one’s latest cinematic encounter. It would rarely be the music score that would leave much of an impression – which is a great shame. As the saying goes, “Sound is 50 percent of the moviegoing experience.” Film scores (and sound effects) actually do a lot to enhance acting, set pieces and tone. Whilst Bernard Hermann (North By Northwest, Psycho, Taxi Driver) did much to revitalise the popularity of soundtracks, John Williams was arguably more influential. Most film lovers would be able to hum the themes to Star Wars, Indiana Jones and ET with great ease. Williams famously employed leitmotifs – themes for characters, locations and thematic ideas – into his scores. It’s a great pleasure to hear themes reoccur in different variations to suit the onscreen action.

The theme is in your head right now, isn’t it?

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Five Films That Defined My Childhood

Changing gears towards a movie theme, we have Lemuriacalling giving us a very personal article. If you like what you see, you can find his tireless videogame writing work over at respawn.ninja, under the name Toby Berger.

—Written by Lemuriacalling—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

I’ll admit this straight away – growing up in the 90’s pretty much rocked. From Rugrats, to the original Pokemon TV series, to Cheese TV – I couldn’t even fathom how I’d have turned out if I was born in this day and age. And while I was swiftly digesting my favorite cartoons of a morning before school would begin, films were still the beast of the media world. Before video games became the massive phenomenon we’re so used to now and cinematic-style TV was still finding its feet, films were the creme-de-la-creme of spectacle. Titanic, E.T., Jurassic Park, Star Wars… all absolutely fantastic in their own way. Going out to the cinema was something families would be genuinely excited to do back then. There was no internet to pirate movies from, CDs were only just becoming a thing and most of all, it was a solid way to bond with your family, friends, and dare I say it – a date or two.

This may not be an accurate depiction of a young Toby.

 

When I started really engaging in film, there was a period of my life that just revolved around watching every movie possible. I absolutely loved them. They were mildly short bursts of something (mostly) original and unique, and because I was a youngster I’d come out of a superhero movie thinking I had powers, I’d come out of a Lord of The Rings movie thinking I’ve just witnessed a battle for the ages, but most importantly, I’d regularly come out of a Saw movie with a massive grin on my face. I wasn’t entirely normal when it came to taking in films, and when I turned around eight or nine I developed a real passion for horror movies. I absolutely adored these monstrosities of filmmaking and enjoyed the gore, the scares, and the monsters. This top five list didn’t take me that long to conjure up because I have such fond memories of being scared out of my brains during a handful of the films I’m about to mention, but I thought it’d be an interesting read none the less. The films are in no particular order, as they all played a significant part in defining my childhood.

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A Borderlands Retrospective

Rolling on to the entertaining thoughts of tehdr4g0n, an accomplished medical practitioner with fiery opinions and a blog you can check out at the bottom of this page!

—Written by tehdr4g0n—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

Before I begin this article in earnest, I’d like to thank Ryan for featuring me on his blog. In doing so, the man shows a remarkable degree of courage, considering my usual style. With this in mind, I’ve toned things down a little.

So, on to the actual content of the article. With the recent release of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection, this seems as good a time as any to take a look at the Borderlands franchise as a whole. In other words, strap yourselves in because I’m about to talk about three Borderlands games, and various aspects of each. Full disclosure, I’m going to talk about my own experience and thoughts on each game, so there won’t be any philosophical discourse on this article. It’s just going to be my experience and opinion on each instalment in one of my favourite franchises of all time.

Borderlands

The original Borderlands game, released in 2009, was adventurous and different. For any whose memories of the time are hazy, this was the year of Uncharted 2; the auspicious first release of Dragon Age: Origins; James Cameron wowing the world with pretty trees and blue aliens in Avatar; and me curled in a little ball trying to ignore the calamity that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Yes, more stuff happened, no I’m not going to name them all. That was just off the top of my head.

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Why Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate is the Best One Yet

This guest writing week begins with a returning blogger, the man who wrote that Monster Hunter 3 Ultimate beginner’s guide for this very site a couple of years ago. Returning to one of his favourite topics, its ZaonTheFirst.

—Written by ZaonTheFirst—

—Edited/formatted by Vagrantesque—

So I am back everyone, and I have got another Monster Hunter post for you all! It has been just over a month since the release of Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and let me tell you, it is by far, my favourite Monster Hunter game in the series to date. Honestly, I am glad Capcom have managed to release a game worthy of taking the title of “The best Monster Hunter game” from its previous, long-time holder, Monster Hunter Freedom Unite on the PSP. These are just some of my thoughts on MH4U as a whole.
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1. Online multiplayer is always fantastic

I cannot stress how important online multiplayer is for a game like this. I say this because the whole concept is that you get into a party of 2-4 hunters (or solo if you want) and strategically take down a gigantic, hard-hitting, and yet majestic-looking beast. It’s so good to see that MH4U has included multiplayer, as opposed to its previous instalment, which to be honest is essentially redundant at this point. Just having the ability to hunt with not just random people all over the world, but your friends as well (Shout outs to all you!) has made the overall gaming experience of MH4U a lot more fulfilling, and I’ve been a lot more motivated to stick with it. To put things into perspective,
– Hours on MH3U on 3DS – 27 hours.
– Hours on MH4U on 3DS – 386 hours and still going
Online multiplayer is the main reason for such a huge difference in time spent on each game. I really think it’s a crucial feature for a Monster Hunter game, so I am glad that they incorporated it into MH4U.

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Guest Week Volume III

It’s mid April once more, and that can only mean one thing! Vagrant Rant’s third annual

GUEST

GUEST

GUEST

WRITER

WRITER

WRITER

WEEK!

WEEK!

WEEK!

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Normally this would be my chance to take a break from blogging, but I’ve just been so busy lately that this will be the most posting activity I’ve had on my blog all year. I am super grateful to the seven writers you are about to read over the next week. This is absolutely one of my favourite times of the year.

Please enjoy.
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The struggle.

 

Revisiting Donkey Kong 64: Did it Kill the 3D Collect-a-thon Platformer?

 

At the beginning of this month, in its Nintendo Direct broadcast, Nintendo of Europe casually announced something I had been waiting for in forlorn hope ever since the original Wii hit the market – the (immediate) release of Donkey Kong 64 on the Wii U virtual console. I don’t know how, but Nintendo’s much-discussed rights conflict with famed British developer Rare that had previously prohibited the game’s re-release has now been sorted out, and you can download the famous ape’s 3D adventure if you so please for $13 AUD. So despite my ever-growing pile of other games to play, I blacked out somewhat that fateful day, and now I write this article having lost another 20 hours to what was once my first-ever home console videogame.

I downed King K.Rool just yesterday, in fact.

My sense of nostalgia may be strong with this one, but a lot has changed in 16 years, and the game isn’t quite as perfect as I may have remembered it. The game has quite a few flaws, actually. What’s more, over the last several years a new critical narrative has built up around the game, accusing it of killing the so-called “collect-a-thon” genre of 3D platformers (think Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, Gex etc) with its needlessly over-the-top bounty of colour-coded things to collect. This line of thought has devolved for some into the act of labelling DK64 a bad game. Does it really deserve this moniker? As we appear to be on the cusp of a 3D collect-a-thon renaissance in gaming, with Conker’s Big Reunion beginning in a matter of days and the impending release of both Playtonic’s “Project Ukelele” and Gears for Breakfast’s A Hat in Time, now is as good a time as ever to try to answer that question.

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Mega Ultra Blast Cast Ep.39 – Back from (another) hiatus


mubc2

After aaaages the Mega Ultra Blast Cast returns to the studio, with the standard trio reuniting to discuss over a month worth of conversation material! Shane regales us with tales of his recent Malaysian adventure while Delaney recounts his transformation into a fervent Bloodborne player, with all the costs to his soul that entails. We also talk about Nintendo’s really odd recent moves, the use-by date of Evolve, and the joys of pool sweat. As a bonus, there’s hardly any Heroes of the Storm talk, because Delaney hasn’t had a PC for the last little while.

If you feel so inclined, go for a run, take a scenic drive, jazz up your afternoon commute or just curl up on the couch and play some games while you listen to the opinions of three fired up Sydneysiders.

You can play the whole episode right off this page if you like:


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Or you can go to the Soundcloud site/app and listen from there:
https://soundcloud.com/mega-ultra-blast-cast/mubc-39-back-from-another-hiatus

(To download and listen offline, follow the link and then click the download tab)

As always if you enjoy what you hear please share the cast with your friends – Until next time!