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At the moment Valve is having a pre-order deal on two of it’s “Steam Hardware” items. If you pre-order either a Steam Controller or a Steam Link before November 10th (the date they will be released), you get a free copy of Rocket League and Portal 2. For those of you who are excited about that…go pre-order, I’ll be here when you get back. But, for those of you who some of these titles mean nothing I’ll offer up some quick explanations.
First the hardware:
The Steam Link – Valve’s answer to getting your PC gaming on to your TV without stringing cables between your office/computer room, and your TV. This is basically a Roku-esque device that will stream your Steam library to your television. For those who already have a decent computer and have no need for a multiple hundred dollar Steam Machine (basically a Valve console for those who don’t own a gaming PC), this will cost $49.99 (plus a few dollars for shipping and handling) and can be bought from Valve here.
The Steam Controller – Say you buy a Steam Link; Are you going to hook up a controller and a keyboard-mouse in case you want to play a First Person Shooter and a Platformer in the same sitting? Probably not. But if that premise appeals to you, Valve is boasting a controller which (they say) does it all. Early reviews have been optimistic – but guardedly so. A lot of reviews say that players should expect a learning curve. Speaking as someone who hated the original X-box controller but uses the 360 controller almost exclusively for my PC, hopefully I’ll survive. Another complaint is that Valve’s claim of that it works for every game is quite a reach. It will set you back is $49.99 as well with a little over $7 in shipping and handling. I went ahead and ordered one, so when it comes in I’ll give a thorough review for you guys here.
Now the software:
Portal 2 – If you haven’t heard of this game: Congratulations on your escape from North Korea! Portal 2 is a first person puzzle game where you get around obstacles by creating wormholes all while being taunted by sociopathic computers. Alternating between fun and frustrating, the story is interesting and will have you thoroughly engaged. This game also has a co-op mode for even more insanity. It was also one of Valve’s last before they decided to focus on hats, hardware and Steam rather then games. So, it comes as not a huge surprise that Valve can offer it for free to push their hardware. Unfortunately the game’s popularity means almost everyone you know has it on one system or another. Outside of this offer, Portal 2 can be bought for $20 on Steam (when not on sale).
Rocket League – Do you like soccer? How about demolition derbies? In what may be the 21st century’s most surprising Reese’s moment. Rocket League is a game which puts the fun in dysfunctional. You drive (RC?) cars and try to push a giant ball into your opponents goal, but the cars can soar through the air and do a variety of flips and maneuvers to score a goal. The matches are super fast paced at only 5 minutes, but can include a ‘sudden death’ if tied. With that in mind, it’s probably not ideal for those who want a real length match, but this makes for a fun frantic time with friends. The cars have a ridiculous amount of customization options that get unlocked as you play. According to the wikia.com for this game the cars all handle identically except for hit boxes, and skidding mechanics. This title was released in July and has already graced more then one Major League Gaming tournament. Hopefully this is a game that will be around for a while. Outside of this offer, Rocket League is going for $20 on Steam.
But why these two games? Well, first they’re both games that work well with a controller. I’ve never played Rocket League with a keyboard but I can’t imagine it improves the experience. Portal is possible with a keyboard/mouse, but ultimately is more comfortable with a controller. Second they’ll look good on a large television. Portal 2 despite being nearly 5 years old still holds up on the graphics end, and Rocket Leagues’ bright colors and speed should look great on a large HD screen. Plus if you were on the fence about either of these pieces of hardware and wanted one or both of these games getting $40 in free games for a $50 device is a pretty good deal.
I’ve recently watched the entirety of this show over a long weekend. What can I say: I have no self control and Netflix is a cruel mistress. I was impressed enough with this show however that I felt a need to scribble down my feelings and observations, give myself an opportunity to examine them in detail and file this away under a good or bad experience. To be honest, I think it’s a little of both. I’ll try to explain without any spoilers, so bear with me.
I’ll start by saying this is not a happy-ever-after anime. You also won’t get all the loose ends tied up neatly at the end either. It’s not a walk in the park to watch but what it is … is truthful. It’s one of the most realistic animes I’ve seen when it comes to portraying real life and mistakes people make becoming an adult. It shows that real life is hard; Sometimes amazing things happen and you’re on top of the world, but there’s also times when there’s no right answers and you have to make impossible choices. This show lays it all on the table with no apologies, but also no judgment of it’s own – it’s all left up to the viewer. I think that’s why I have such mixed feelings about it; It’s very different than anything I’ve watched before, but that was a respite in some ways. I could have genuine feelings and reactions when things changed, rather than those colored by previous shows in a similar genera. It was exhilarating not knowing what to expect at every turn.
The two main characters are both named Nana, which is where the show get’s it’s name, obviously. After finishing it though, I also feel like there is a deeper meaning about how these girls broke apart and reassembled themselves with pieces from each other. I feel like it showcases how people are kind of like puzzles, and interactions with other people cause you to trade those pieces of yourself for pieces of them, over and over again, for better or worse. I don’t want to give too much way about them, but I will freely admit that Nana K was really difficult for me to like at first; she’s kind of an awful self centered, boy crazy nitwit in the first quarter of the show – but she’s 19, so I guess that’s forgivable. She kind of grows on you though because she comes across as genuine in her strengthens and faults. (She also reminded me a lot of my younger self, which – let me tell you – I did not appreciate.) Nana O. on the other hand comes across as cool and collected in the beginning, but I think it’s intentional by the creators. I think you’re suppose to like her in the beginning because she presents herself as tough and no nonsense.
The two main bands, Blast and Trapnest, are actually quite interesting. As I found out more and more about each of the band members the creators make it easy to see how everyone became who they are and how their circumstances and choices led them to where they are. I actual like most of the band mates better then the main characters over all, but I
found that my favorites changed as the characters grew and I got to know them better. The entertainment industry isn’t sugar coated at all, which is a nice change of pace. They definitely show the highs and the lows of being in the spotlight, but also what the demands are to get there and the deeply individual costs. Personal choices and cause and effect are major thematic elements throughout the story, which reinforces the realistic edge. Family and trust are also a major part of each person’s story, wither it’s to show how our origins color our perception of our world and people around us or how a support group – or lack there of – can make or break a future.
I know so far I’ve made this sound kind of dreary and maybe a tad depressing, but that’s not all it has to offer – I promise. It is serious at times, but there’s also love and friendship. The first quarter of the show is actually kind of sweet and maybe just a bit silly. Everyone has to grow up sometime though, and even though it doesn’t have a nice neat ending where everything is perfect, there is a fair amount of understanding; In real life things are rarely perfect, but the mess is what makes it okay.
Would I recommend it? I don’t know. It’s definitely not for everyone; There is one scene I can think of in particular towards the end of the show that is distressing in regards to consent, which could definitely be a trigger for some. I don’t know how I feel about that issue in regards to how it fits into the story, but I can say the rest of the story overall is engaging – it will absolutely make you laugh at times, but it will also make you hurt as well. Personally, it was worth it for me. I probably will watch it again at some point, but not for a few years. I need some distance and a little more introspection on my own life. I would say if you do watch it, watch the whole thing. All 47 episodes. Just like any real friend, they want you to know the whole story.
You won’t often hear the words ‘spiritual’ and ‘cosplay’ used in the same sentence – Well, probably not ever actually, unless it’s you’re making No Face from Spirited Away or some such. For me though it really is. I’ve never felt like I was a particularly creative person. I like making things with my hands, and I have a design background (academically speaking) – but for the most part I have a really hard time with creative fashion and clothes in general. Things like make-up and ‘doing your hair’ still seem like special occasion accessories rather than an every day necessity. Being introduced to cosplay was like being invited into Narnia. It’s a whole collection of things I struggle with made accessible and fun in a larger than life kind of way.
Now I won’t lie; The first time I made a costume, with my own two hands and all that, was very trying. It was lots of trail and error and learning from mistakes. (That never really ends, but that’s okay.) I’d never worked without a pattern before and I’d never actually worn a wig, let alone alter one. I can’t remember how may times I’d thought ‘why am I even doing this?!’ only to be reeled by to saneville by one of my cosplay co-conspirators. There was lots of good things about it too though, and that is a huge reason I keep coming back; Bringing a favorite character to life. Learning how to make new things and how to improve old skills. Sitting around a table covered in sewing machines and fabrics, laughing with friends and solving problems – those are some of my best memories. Without a doubt, cosplay brings us closer together, and what’s not to love about that?
While I do enjoy the process (most of the time), I would be lying a little if I said wearing them wasn’t the best part. In the words of Lady Gaga, I live for the applause! (Don’t we all though?) All kidding aside, the very first costume I ever made – Toph Beifong from Avatar the Last Airbender – was something special. I’m not going to tell you it was the best costume ever made or some other similar BS – it was special because of the experience I had while wearing it. Cosplay is pretty much guaranteed to bring you to other fans, new friends, and costume enthusiasts admiration – and it’s all sunshine and rainbows in the sincerest way possible. When I put on Toph, it was almost a surreal experience. Taking pictures, meeting people, trying to walk through a crowd with 97% of my vision obscured by really intense bangs. It was all good fun – for the first three quarters of the day. Then I was sweaty and tried and tried of having my sandaled feet get trampled and really, really hungry ’cause I couldn’t find the food court; I was definitely in the ‘powder walk through the crowd with resting bitch face’ phase of the day.
Then a nice looking, out of breath Hispanic man stopped me, and explained that he’d seen me through
the crowd – his girls were big fans of the show and would love a picture. So we wade back though the throng of people, and the minute these two little girls see us their faces break out into these huge smiles. They looked like they were maybe three and four – they were these tiny little adorable doe eyed creatures who were sincerely overjoyed to meet me. It was probably the single most humbling moment of my life – I’m getting teared up now just thinking about it. Everything that had gone wrong that day, all my aggravation and hangry-ness, just evaporated. I knelled down on the floor for some pictures, let them touch my wig and laugh, and talked to them a little about the show and their favorite characters. The younger one kept asking me where Aang was, which was pretty funny. Their parents eventually rounded them up to leave, and they each gave me a hug and waved goodbye over their shoulders.
Being able to bring that character to life for those girls made that entire trip worth it for me – and that’s the feeling I get every time I put on a costume I’ve made. I keep coming back because being able to brighten someone’s day by doing something I love is a pretty powerful gift.
Take a trip down memory lane, to the far of distant events of CES 2015: A magical land of of mighty warriors on rocket skates, VR for the masses, and robotic horrors crawling out of the hellish depths of the uncanny valley. We’ll be back in two weeks for another regular episode.
Jurassic World releases this weekend in theaters and that sends the pilots on a trip through memory lane, recalling fond memories of the original movies and books. Along the way we also touch on Independence Day and the disaster movies of the 90s. Don’t forget you can check us out on twitter @RocketpunchRDO. Email any questions, comments, or intro suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Don’t forget to rate, comment, and subscribe to us on iTunes, Stitcher, or Tunein.
This week the pilots gather to combat Russians and medieval German monsters in the Australian outback, all while listening to Ultron’s sweet sweet boom box cheeks. Don’t forget to subscribe and review us on iTunes! Also we are now taking suggestions for show-openers. If you have a theme you would love us to use for the next episode please leave it in the comments below or email us at email@example.com. Also, you should check out the amazing lady who did the Furiosa art above.
James and Nate sat down last night to have a short talk about Nate’s PAX East experiences. They talk about the games, the hardware, and the people of PAX, as well as the future of VR. The episode is now live for subscribers on Stitcher and iTunes.
Please don’t forget to rate and review us. We’ll read reviews on the podcast, and every rating or review you give us helps people know about the podcast. Don’t forget if you have questions or comments you can hit us up on Twitter @rocketpunchradio or you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!