Eric Watson

Eric Watson

Eric is a freelance writer who enjoys talking about video games, movies, books and Dallas-based sports teams. Every week he watches a random film from his collection of several hundred DVDs and live tweets about it @RogueWatson. He also makes a mean tuna quesadilla. He lives near Fort Worth, Texas with his wife and daughter, two dogs, two cats, two fish tanks, some hermit crabs and a bookshelf full of Transformers.

roblox

Roblox Hires Online Safety Expert as Director of Digital Civility

Posted by | News, PC, Xbox One | No Comments

Fortnite is getting all the attention, but online free-to-play game Roblox is still one of the most popular gaming destinations for young people around the world, with an active user base in the millions. Much of that crowd is under 18. Roblox Corporation has made numerous steps to ensure online safety, a top concern for parents whose kids enjoy exploring virtual worlds.

The Roblox Corporation has recently hired British online safety expert Laura Higgins as its Director of Digital Civility (the staff page lists her as Online Safety Operations Manager). Higgins has 20 years of experience working with online safety and educational organizations like the South West Grid for Learning. Higgins will work to create a safe, fun, productive environment for players, as well as develop educational resources for parents.

“Because Roblox is rapidly growing into one of the most popular places for kids and teens to hang out and play online, we have a duty to make sure that when they use our platform they can explore their creativity freely and safely,” said Higgins. “We have an opportunity to engage with young people in a unique way, and I hope that by listening to them and giving them a voice, we can help shape their positive behaviors both online and offline. I am beyond delighted to be joining this world-class team of innovators, and I look forward to working with external partners around the world.”

Roblox’s new Digital Civility Initiative will work to improve programs for parents, enhance user experience, and extend Roblox’s educational work with schools.

Roblox originally launched on PC way back in 2006 as a building creation game using Lego-like blocks. It’s also available on mobile devices and Xbox One. The ESRB has rated the Xbox One version E10+ for Fantasy Violence.

rocket league

Cross-Platform Support Now Available for PS4 in Rocket League

Posted by | News, PlayStation 4 | No Comments

In an update this week Psyonix has officially announced a highly requested feature for multiplayer sports-car game Rocket League: Cross-platform support for PlayStation players. The PlayStation Cross-Play Beta is live now for Rocket League. Players on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Switch can matchmake and play with each other, regardless of platform.

Rocket League had previously supported cross-platform play between Xbox, Switch, and PC. Sony was notoriously the last holdout, refusing to support cross-platform play even while other companies, like Microsoft and Nintendo, played nice. Leave it to the incredible popularity of Fortnite to finally change Sony’s stance last fall, as they started the PlayStation Cross-Play Beta program.

The Cross-Play Beta is enabled by default in Rocket League. To double check, head to the Options section of the main game menu to ensure that Cross-Platform Play is checked off.

Cross-platform play is supported in both random matchmaking and private matches. Psyonix is planning on releasing a cross-platform party system as their first update of 2019. The party system will allow for players to team up with friends across any platform.

“Today’s announcement is an important one for us here at Psyonix, because we know how much our community has wanted full cross-platform support for quite some time,” states the announcement post. “It’s because of you, our fans, and our generous partners on all systems and services that have made this possible in the first place. On behalf of the entire team, thank you for your passion and persistence as we continue to do our best to make Rocket League the best experience we can.”

Rocket League is available on PC (Win, Mac, Linux), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Switch. It originally launched in 2015 and remains a popular multiplayer sports game, replacing traditional soccer players with customizable cars. It’s rated E for Everyone.

furiends

Walk Your Virtual Dog with Furiends AR Mobile Game

Posted by | Mobile, News | No Comments

Furiends is a mobile AR game designed to motivate players to get up and move around. Instead of hunting for Pokémon, however, you’re walking the dog.

“Furiends offers the one-of-a-kind experience of adopting a dog in augmented reality,” said Kyra Constam, Blue Goji. “These virtual dogs can go on any adventure, making for some unreal photos along the way. We encourage players to play, train, and take their best shot.”

The goal is to play and walk with your furry friends as much as possible. Stars are rewarded for playtime while Coins are rewarded for taking steps using your smart phone’s step tracker. Stars and Coins can be traded in to gift your pet with food, toys, clothes, and accessories for photos.

Players are encouraged to upload their AR dog pics to Furiends’ official Instagram account for a chance to win prizes.

Furiends will be playable at PAX South this weekend, taking place in San Antonio, TX. The mobile game is currently free to download on iOS, and supported by in-app purchases to buy more toys, accessories, and other items for your virtual pet. Blue Goji is donating a portion of the proceeds to non-profit pet rescue organization Austin Pets Alive.

An Android version is set to arrive later this year. Furiends has a rating of 4+ on the App Store.

new super mario bros

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe Bounces Onto Switch

Posted by | News, Switch | No Comments

Nintendo’s premiere Mario 2D sidescroller on Wii U has been re-released with new content on the Switch. New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe is available now. And arriving on Nintendo 3DS is another Mario remaster: Mario & Luigi: Bowser’s Inside Story + Bowser Jr.’s Journey.

“After a strong 2018, both Nintendo Switch and Nintendo 3DS add to their large and diverse libraries with two solid games starring Mario and friends,” said Doug Bowser, Nintendo of America’s Senior VP of Sales and Marketing. “Nintendo is giving fans on both platforms good options to kick off their entertainment in 2019.”

New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe includes the original New Super Mario Bros. U and its more challenging sequel, New Super Luigi U, for a total of 164 levels.

Both games feature up to four player simultaneous local co-op. Players can choose between Mario, Luigi, Peach, Toad, and newcomers Nabbit and Toadette. Both Nabbit and Toadette are geared for younger gamers, offering an assist mode. Nabbit is un-phased by enemies and earns extra lives, while Toadette can turn into Peachette, letting her double jump, float, and bounce up from pitfalls.

Note that you’ll need additional controllers to play with three or four players.

The recently arrived Nintendo 3DS version of 2009’s Bower’s Inside Story features revamped graphics and gameplay. The new mode, Bowser’s Jr.’s Journey, puts Bowser’s kid in the limelight as he gathers an army and wrecks havoc. Bowser’s Inside Story is fully compatible with the Nintendo 2DS and 2DS XL.

Both games are rated E for Everyone.

clank in space

Clank in Space + Apocalypse Review

Posted by | Reviews | No Comments

Publisher: Renegade Game Studios, Dire Wolf Digital
Age: 12+
Players: 2-4
Game Length: 45-90 minutes
MSRP: $60.00 (Clank in Space), $25 (Apocalypse expansion)

In space no one can hear you scream, but Lord Eradikus will surely hear all that noise you’ve been making while snooping around his ship. All that clanking will summon his wrath, and your only hope is to run faster than your friends.

Clank in Space is a brilliantly fun board game that combines the strategy of a deckbuilding card game with a space-themed dungeon crawl. The recently released Apocalypse expansion adds new villainous schemes to thwart your heist plans even more, creating an always exciting and memorable race through the mother ship.

Space Heist

The original concept for Clank: A Deck-building Adventure in 2016 resulted in a traditional fantasy-themed dungeon crawler. Clank in Space launched as a sequel a year later, infusing a sci-fi theme filled with hilariously on-the-nose references to every science fiction movie and show you can think of. It also features a modular board of multiple double-sided sectors, adding a welcoming amount of variety to every game.

clank in spaceAs a deckbuilder each player starts with the same starter deck of 10 cards, which can generate either Skill, Swords, Boots, or Clank. Skill lets you acquire more and better cards. Swords allows you to defeat villain cards for rewards. Boots let you move around the map, while Clank forces you to add your colored tokens to the bag. When certain cards arrive at the marketplace, Lord Eradikus will attack, forcing players to draw cubes from the bag to see who gets attacked.

Players take turns playing cards, moving around the board, collecting secrets, and hacking modules to gain access to the final area. The goal is to steal an artifact, then high tail it back to the entrance to count their victory points. Lord Eradikus’ rage builds over the course of the game, represented by drawing additional clank cubes from his bag.

The beginning stages feel calm. But by the end you’ve drawn most of the black cubes (misses) from the bag, players are wounded, and you’re running out of options to heal and time to escape. If you die before returning to the starting module, you’re eliminated.

Player elimination can be harsh but they often get their revenge; on future turns they become additional boss attacks. I’ve played at least one hilarious game in which all three players died early thanks to a string of risky choices and bad luck, and we all ended up laughing about it.

Apocalypse Now

The new Apocalypse expansion adds 35 adventure cards, two new module map pieces, and eight schemes. The cards and modules help add even more variety and flavor to a game already rich with replayablity, while the schemes are an all-new gameplay addition.

clank in space apocalypse

Instead of adding new mechanics and complications, schemes smartly use a resource already in the base game, the black boss cubes. When these starter cubes are drawn from the bag they represent misses from Lord Eradikus. They’re important for making the early game sting less, while the late game gets excitingly challenging as the ratio between player cubes and black cubes has shifted.

When playing with one of the schemes, drawing these black cubes adds to an ongoing counter. Each scheme includes three different stages, with each stage activating a global effect. The Microbot Army Scheme, for example, deals 1 damage each to all players upon reaching stages one and two. But after the third stage, players take one damage every turn if they fail to generate any Swords.

To combat these threats, each scheme allows players to purchase the black cubes before they fill up a stage, with the purchase cost thematically tied to the scheme (Microbot Army requires Swords). Many of the new cards and both of the modules then add new abilities that can be activated using these black cubes.

It’s a clever way to use a resource that was already included in the base game, though the schemes were rarely as impactful as I was hoping. It’s not too difficult to stay on top of most of the schemes. The final stage usually activates so late in the game that it rarely creates much of a disruption to the already exciting end-game.

clank in spaceThe Rating

As a deckbuilder, Clank requires comprehension of card text, though synergy between cards is less important than other card games. The simple iconography of Boots, Skill, and Swords is easy to grasp.

With the emphasis on working toward the same goal with a few Take That mechanics, Clank makes for a great family game with older kids and teens.

The Takeaway

The best part of Clank in Space is how perfectly balanced it feels. Every game consistently ramps up into an exciting, nail-biting conclusion. No matter how many players I was playing with it always became a tense, tight race. The Apocalypse expansion integrates perfectly, adding more variety without making anything too complicated, though some schemes are far more interesting and enjoyable than others.

Find Clank! In! Space! and the Apocalypse! expansion at Amazon, the Renegade Games Store, and your local gaming retailers.

destiny 2

Bungie and Activision Getting a Divorce, Bungie Keeping Destiny

Posted by | News, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One | No Comments

Bungie, best known for creating the Halo series and more recently the Destiny games, has announced they are splitting from parent company Activision after eight years. As part of the deal, Activision will transfer ownership rights of Destiny to Bungie, who will become an independent publisher.

“We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on Destiny,” states the official update post. “Looking ahead, we’re excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for Destiny to Bungie. With our remarkable Destiny community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects.”

Bungie has a history of independent development as well as partnerships with large corporations. After developing PC games in the 90s, Bungie was acquired by Microsoft in 1999 after showing its new first-person shooter, Halo: Combat Evolved. Halo became an Xbox exclusive and was instrumental in catapulting the new console’s success throughout the early 2000s.

In 2007 Bungie split from Microsoft, but Microsoft would retain the rights to the Halo franchise. Bungie continued to develop Halo games for Microsoft, releasing Halo 3: ODST and Halo Reach.

Then in 2010 Bungie announced a 10-year publishing agreement with Activision, which included letting Bungie keep the intellectual property rights of any new games. The Destiny series was born from that agreement. “We had a vision for Destiny that we believed in, but to launch a game of that magnitude, we needed the support of an established publishing partner,” states the post.

Destiny and its sequel, Destiny 2, have enjoyed critical and commercial success, with numerous content updates and DLC over the years. Bungie promises to continue this trend as they resume life as an independent developer. “We’ll continue to deliver on the existing Destiny roadmap, and we’re looking forward to releasing more seasonal experiences in the coming months, as well as surprising our community with some exciting announcements about what lies beyond,” states the post. “We know self-publishing won’t be easy; there’s still much for us to learn as we grow as an independent, global studio, but we see unbounded opportunities and potential in Destiny.”