Archive for the ‘Caffeinated Thoughts’ Category

Pure Chess – Caffeinated Thoughts (NOOK HD+ Tablet version)

September 12, 2013


Coffee Beans
Pure Chess recently released for iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, and Android devices. The game has been developed by VooFoo and published by Ripstone. Last week, I posted an interview with Ripstone’s Phil Gaskell about Pure Chess coming to the Wii U and 3DS, and you can read the first part of the interview, HERE.

What’s the best part about the mobile release of Pure Chess though? It can be downloaded and enjoyed for an awesome low price of FREE.

You read that right, Pure Chess for iOS and Android devices can be downloaded for free. Is it worth downloading and using up the megabytes of required space though? In short, absolutely!

What will the free version of Pure Chess get you, as for choices of how to play a game of chess, and what does the Pure ChessComplete Game Pack” offer content wise? Brew yourself some coffee, and hit the jump to see details of what you can expect from Pure Chess now on iOS and Android devices!

How the Pure Chess main menu appears. 

The Brew
If you download Pure Chess, here are the features you will get in the basic free version:

1) Play Local – The ability to play one local chess game at a time on your Android/iOS device, against either a human or computer opponent.

    a) This offers two difficult settings if you want to play against a computer opponent. Monkey AI is the lowest difficulty, and well, it’s apparently like playing against a monkey. Monkey AI has been an excellent difficulty for showing Bean 1 how to play move different chess pieces around.
    b) For those chess fans that enjoy timed matches, you also have the option of using a game timer if you would like. You can select to have it do a time limit per move, or you can select an incremental timer option.

2) Play Online – The ability to enjoy one online “Play By Mail” chess game at a time on your mobile  device. This allows you to play other Pure Chess owners from around the world in chess matches, and I have already used this feature to play two online chess matches, against Matt and Chris from DigitallyDownloaded.net. It works extremely well, and even shows you the moves previously made in the match, so that you can remember what exactly was happening if you take a break from the game and come back a few hours (or, even days) later.

3) Chess Challenges – This area has two sections for players to use and improve their chess games: Bonus Games or a Tournament.
    a) Bonus Games are where you try and get checkmate in a certain number of moves. The Bonus Games start with “Mate in 1” and go all the way up to “Mate in 5”. With the free version, you have access to the first two problems under each one, for a total of 10 Bonus Games.
    b) The Tournament section will allow you to play in a Beginners Tournament in the free version, but also has a Challengers Tournament and Masters Tournament.

4) Chess Set Pieces – The checker based chess pieces (seen in the image above) are the set pieces in the free version, with three appearances to choose from: wood, metal, or plastic.

The basic checker based chess pieces.

5) Teaching – Under the “Learn to play” section there are 24 lessons which are very helpful for someone that perhaps has never played chess, or someone that has only played a few chess games and needs a refresher course. These lessons will show you the basic chess piece moves, and how to capture with the pieces as well. There are a few slightly advanced chess moves and rules not covered in the free version, such as castling, but you do get those extra lessons in the full version of the game, or even as a lower priced separate option if you’re just looking to learn chess.

Now, if you buy the Pure Chess “COMPLETE GAME PACK”, what will you get?

Well, for less than the price of a tournament chess set and board from Amazon.com, here’s an image with just some of what you will get:

Click to enlarge.

On top of the features in the image, you will also get these additional chess set pieces and locations:
1) Forest Game Pack – This includes a calm forest environment and classic Lewis chess set.
2) Temple Game Pack – This includes a temple environment setting, with an Imperial Roman army chess set.
3) Park Game Pack – This includes an Autumnal park environment, with animal based chess pieces. Think rabbits, owls, mice, and more!
4) Halloween Chess Set – Well, take a look at the image below and the screenshot on the left to get an idea of what you can expect from this spooktacular chess set!

The Pure Chess Halloween and Park Chess Sets.

5) Easter Island Chess Set – Have you ever been to Easter Island? If not, you can read about the island and the Moai that inspired this chess set, HERE.
6) Staunton Chess Set – This chess set has been around since the mid-1800s, and you can read about it, HERE. This Pure Chess chess set is shown below, in the left screenshot.
7) Battalion Chess Set – Shown below, in the middle screenshot.
8) Williams Chess Set – Shown below, in the right screenshot.

The Staunton, Battalion, and Williams Chess Sets. Click image to enlarge.

Caffeinated Thoughts
This is very simple. If you have ever enjoyed chess, or want to learn how to play chess, you should at the very least immediately go and download the Android or iOS basic free version of Pure Chess if you have a device that you can do it on:
App Store version, HERE.
Google Play store version, HERE.
Amazon App store version, HERE.

Pure Chess’ free basic version is like a coffee shop giving away a free small cup of coffee, and then charging a little for the extras. You can enjoy the deliciousness of the original brewed coffee, but if you perhaps enjoy your coffee drinks a little sweeter, you have all sorts of options.

If you don’t want to buy the Pure Chess Complete Game Pack, no problem. You can pay for just the option(s) you want to make your chess experience, just a little bit sweeter.

What if you don’t know much about chess and just want to learn more, without buying the full version? They give you the choice of buying just a Difficulty & Tutorial Upgrade, for $1.07. Want access to the extra checkmate puzzles and the harder, more advanced chess tournaments? You can buy the Challenge Upgrade for $1.07. Want the extra chess sets and locations? You can buy them individually.

Want to have the ability to play more than one local and online chess game at a time? You can buy the Multi-Game Upgrade, which only costs $1.07, allowing you to play up to 6 local and 6 online chess games without buying the full game.

If you want to go big though, and for example make your free small cup of coffee a large cup, you can certainly do so with the Pure Chess Complete Game Pack. While I am holding off for the Wii U version before making an initial purchase, I will go with the equivalent of the Pure Chess Complete Game Pack on the Wii U when the game releases.

Once I do get the Wii U version though, I will probably also go with the Multi-Game Upgrade option on the NOOK version I am currently using. Which, if you’re not aware of what the NOOK HD+ Tablet is, it is an e-Reader based tablet device from the U.S. book retailer Barnes & Noble. From my own personal experience of playing chess in a coffee shop, if I was Barnes & Noble I would try to get Pure Chess downloaded to every single NOOK HD+ Tablet before it’s sold, and help use that as a way to promote in store chess tournaments on their own device.

If you have Pure Chess downloaded already, my Ripstone account name is CoffeeWithGames. Feel free to send me an online match challenge, and I’ll accept it once my current match is over.

Questions
Have any of you been playing the new Android or iOS version of Pure Chess, and if so, what do you think about it?


CONNECT WITH COFFEE

Mutant Mudds Deluxe, easy enough for kids, hard enough for parents? One big difference between the PC and Wii U versions.

June 14, 2013
Not all images are from Mutant Mudds, but one is inspired by it.

Coffee Beans
Mutant Mudds Deluxe released today on the Wii U and is available to purchase from the eShop for $9.99. The game was developed and published by Renegade Kid, and has an ESRB rating of “EVERYONE” with “Mild Fantasy Violence” listed as content for parents and gamers to be aware of.

I purchased the PC version of Mutant Mudds last year when it released, and you can read some of my impressions of that version HERE. Bean 1 (our oldest son) started playing the PC version, after watching me play it, and considering his age he is pretty good at the game using mouse and keyboard controls.

I was planning on buying the Wii U version today so he could play it with a more standard controller and button layout (like what he’s used to with the Mario games); plus, I really enjoyed the PC version and wanted to play the new levels added to the Wii U version.

I saw that Renegade Kid was doing a contest giving away copies of the Wii U game. It was a drawing/art contest, but they even made it possible for a “non-artist” like myself to be able to enter, giving us an option to create a digital image or collage using existing images.

Did we win one of the contest giveaways? Brew yourself some coffee, and hit the jump to see the image I created (if you missed it already) for the contest, and a video of Bean 1 playing one of the levels in Mutant Mudds Deluxe on the Wii U!

The Brew & Caffeinated Thoughts
The image above was the one I created for the contest, using an image from Mutant Mudds as inspiration. Instead of having Max in it though, I decided to involve the Beans, and make it like they were sucked into Max’s world.

Yes, the Sacky Sit-Sits have taken the form of Bean 2, because he has inspired them with the muddy mess he makes along the way. Or, that was the idea, and Bean 1 has to clean up the mess while tracking down his younger brother.

Were we one of the winners though? We were!

Now, is Mutant Mudds Deluxe fun for the entire family, as the first image above says? Well, Bean 1 and I have both enjoyed our time with the game today. If you enjoy the platforming genre, or think you might enjoy the game, I do recommend you give this one a try.

Bean 1 was super excited to play it, and had been looking forward to the Wii U version after watching the trailer several times over the last week. Is Bean 1 any good at it? Here’s a video of him playing through the first level in Mutant Mudds Deluxe:


Some of the levels in Mutant Mudds Deluxe are easy enough for kids to complete on their own, as the first image says, but many are challenging enough to probably require the help of a parent. Bean 1 is able to finish some of the levels without trouble, as you can witness in the video above, but in other levels he does request help.

One big difference between the PC version of Mutant Mudds and Mutant Mudds Deluxe Wii U is the timer in each level. The PC version has a timer that just keeps track of how long it takes you to finish a level, so you can spend 10 minutes in the levels hopping around if you want. The Wii U version of Mutant Mudds Deluxe has a timer that counts down though, and when it runs out you have to start the level over (or, at the last check point).

Having the timer count down makes Mutant Mudds Deluxe like the original Super Mario Bros. games, where each level had a timer counting down and you need to reach the end before it reaches “0:00”. I think the timer might be a good thing though, as it might help Bean 1 to concentrate more on the task at hand of finishing the levels, but I’m not sure if it will be too challenging for him in some of the later stages.

Now, if Renegade Kid patches the Wii U version in the future, I think adding a “Timer Off” option, like turning off the check points is an option, might be a good thing to include.

Questions
Have any of you picked up Mutant Mudds Deluxe already, and if so, what do you think about it?
If you own a Wii U and haven’t purchased Mutant Mudds Deluxe yet, and perhaps have some questions about it, feel free to leave them below!

Caffeinated Thoughts on the Wii U

November 30, 2012
How many beans can you count?

Coffee Beans
So, the Saturday night before the Wii U released on the 18th, I attempted to find a Wii U at a midnight release in town, but having no such fortune I ended up just getting our reserved Wii U system on Sunday as was originally planned.

I brought the Wii U home, but didn’t start setting it up until a few hours later (about 3:30PM), after making sure the Beans were down for their naps.

With almost 2 weeks with the Wii U system now, what do I think about it? Brew yourself some coffee, probably a whole pot for this post, and let’s take a look!

Caffeinated Thoughts
What’s a good way to go about my thoughts on the Wii U? How about the bitter, sweet, and bold!

Sad coffee face. 😦

Bitter
1) Initial Patch – While getting system updates is something I’m quite used to doing on the PlayStation 3, it’s not something I particularly like having to do. Hopefully Nintendo will start shipping Wii U units with the update already installed, so new Wii U owners can just plug-and-play on day one. I actually think having to patch the system as it is now, might keep the system from gaining popularity with the casual market the Wii initially grabbed. I know that my parents would have a time trying to figure out how to connect the Wii U to their wireless setting, so hopefully it is something that can be remedied quickly. My initial patch/update took about an hour, but I did use a USB Ethernet port to have my Wii U connected directly the internet.

2) Disc drive – The Wii U’s disc drive is constantly reading the disc when one is in the drive, even if the game is not being played and another system function is being used like Miiverse or Netflix. I think Nintendo might have patched the original Wii to solve this issue on that system, as I don’t believe the disc would be spinning when using Netflix on the Wii, so I’m hoping they solve the problem with a patch. As of now, I remove any game from our Wii U when it is not being played, but I know others don’t think it’s a big issue.

3) Poorly designed YouTube App – The YouTube App window, which is like the Netflix and Amazon Video Apps on the system, appears on the home page of the system. For whatever reason though, the GamePad is used in very minimal ways with the YouTube App. From my time with the app, the YouTube videos can’t even be switched to streaming from the GamePad, which is very odd. You have to basically be looking at the TV to search and use the YouTube App in any decent way. Fortunately, there is a better way to use YouTube on the Wii U, which I’ll get to below.

4) No NINTENDO CHANNEL DATA – Sure, I can still track Wii games on my Wii’s Nintendo Channel, but the Wii U does not provide averages played on games as the Wii does. The Nintendo Channel cannot even be downloaded to the Wii menu section on the Wii U, which means we are keeping our Wii. (Please fix this Nintendo, JUST like the Wii had it.)

5) Hard reset doesn’t hard reset – This is very odd and baffling to me. I have had my Wii U console freeze up on me twice now (twice too many!). Okay, not terrible I guess considering I have used it quite a bit so far, but still it’s a bitter experience when it happens. Your TV will most likely sound like a police car, fire truck, and ambulance sirens have gotten stuck in a high pitched squeal. But when you think, “Easy FIX! I’ll just hold the power button and get rid of that annoying sound.”, you are hit with a wall of disappoint and failure upon trying. Somehow, the Wii U made it out to the masses without the typical hard reset option working. Most of the time on electronics devices, if they freeze, you can simply hold the power button down for a few seconds and get it to turn itself off. Not with the Wii U right now. Nope. I have to crawl into the dungeon behind our entertainment system that is housing a 200-300lb beast (see TV), and unplug the system from what outlet. How in the world an electronics device got out without the typical hard reset option working, is baffling. Apparently though, Nintendo is going to patch that up for us in the next few weeks, which will hopefully make it a distant, if bitter, memory. I’m not holding my breath waiting on the patch though, because there is a lack of history from Nintendo with providing decent patches even on their games.

Happy!

Sweet
1) Finding Friends – If you own a Wii U, feel free to add me to your friend list. My Nintendo Network user name is CoffeesNintendo has improved finding and adding friends greatly over the Wii’s method. You can add “friends” directly from Miiverse, meaning just a random person you don’t know. You can search for new friends based on people you have played with in online games as well. The system’s ability to send messages to friends, and see what games they are playing (or app they are using) is a great improvement over what was offered (or not offered) on the Wii. There are some finicky things though, like my Mii not displaying the game I was playing to another friend for a while, and we’re not sure if it was on my side or his side of things (or Nintendo’s side), but overall adding and communicating with friends is a huge improvement over the Wii.

2) Video Chat – While only briefly trying this out one night with Brad, from WhoBurnedMyToast, it worked well when we used it and he was able to see the Beans (well, the older one at least) being super hyper right before their bed-time. He even spelled out “Coffee” on the GamePad and Bean 1 correctly identified the word. The drawing on the GamePad during video chat is something that I think could become a big hit with younger children and perhaps grandparents, and just doodling on the GamePad for fun during chatting as well. I guess if somebody figures out a way to do math tutoring with video chat on the Wii U, they can just do their math equations on the GamePad.

3) TV button on GamePad – This is an awesome little button/feature, and I have used it quite a bit in my time with the Wii U to turn the volume up and down in games. It works very well, though you do need to be pointing the Wii U GamePad at the TV when trying to use the TV controls; meaning if there is an object between you and the GamePad, or the GamePad is stored on top of an entertainment system above the TV as ours is, you will need to point it at the TV like a normal TV remote.

4) User Interface (UI) & Operating System (OS) – The Wii U’s UI is an updated version of the Wii’s with the tile boxes on the screen, but the OS behind it has had a good bit of overhaul to it, allowing for more features and functionality. Hitting the Home button during a game will pull up a menu, allowing you to jump to your Friend List, Miiverse, Nintendo eShop, Internet Browser, Nintendo TVii, Download Management, Controller Settings, or Manual for whatever game or app you are using. The ability to switch back and forth from displaying things on the TV to the GamePad with different apps like Netflix, Amazon Video, and YouTube within the browser is very nice. Bean 2 (the younger Bean) is now famous for finding the power button on the TV where we have it set up and last Monday night (the 19th) Bean 1 and I were sitting on the couch watching a cartoon on Netflix (probably Bob the Builder). Bean 2 found the TV power button and pressed it off, and what usually results in “Put him in jail!” from Bean 1, was instantly averted by switching Netflix to streaming on the GamePad we had on the couch with us. Bean 1 was surprised by it, but Bean 2 didn’t know any difference and went about pressing the TV power button.

5) Browser – The browser on the Wii U is very functional from my time with it, especially with the GamePad’s keyboard implementation. Typing with either the GamePad’s stylus or my fingers has worked very well for doing quick Google searches. My favorite thing about the Wii U’s browser though, is YouTube on it works incredibly well. You can choose to watch the YouTube videos on the TV, but use the GamePad to search and select more YouTube videos to play directly off of the GamePad. Or, unlike the App, you can actually choose to stream YouTube videos directly off of the GamePad. Also, this could fall under the OS and UI maybe, but if you are in a game and need help you can hit the Home button to bring up the Home menu. Then what? Well, if you select the Browser button, it will launch the browser for you and already have the game you are playing ready to be “searched” if that’s what you’re wanting. You can search, while the game is still paused, for guides on how to beat a boss, where to find an item in the game, or how many hours you can expect it to take you to finish the game. Or, you can even use the browser while the game is paused, go to YouTube and find a walk-through video on the game (if you do that) if you get stuck. The browser also has a little “curtain” that you can use to hide what you’re searching for from the TV, and I have found this actually pretty useful with keeping Bean 1 from requesting 20 different YouTube videos. After we watch one on the TV, I can put up the curtain, find another video, and hit play without him requesting a video that might not be really relevant, but the image on it just looks shiny and interesting.

6) Wii U GamePad stand/cradle set – These are included with the Wii U Deluxe Set, or can be purchased for the Wii U Basic Set for $19.99. I do recommend them, and if you are looking for Wii U accessories for your Christmas list and only have the basic set, these can be very useful. One of the stands allows the GamePad to sit in it and be charged, and while you can’t really play it like that, it’s a good place to store it and keep out of the hands of little Beans that might want it. The second stand is just a GamePad stand, with no slot for the charging cable to be plugged. I use this one quite often when sitting on the couch playing ZombiU, leaving the stand on the coffee table and putting the GamePad in the stand if I get up to go grab some more coffee, snacks, or just to check on the Beans in the middle of the night.

7) Games – So far, I have played three Wii U games. Those being Nintendo Land, Trine 2, and ZombiU.

  • Nintendo Land came with the system, and we have played it a decent amount. Bean 1 really enjoys the Mario Chase, Luigi’s Ghost Mansion, and Yoshi’s Fruit Cart mini-games the most. When you play the different mini-games, you are awarded coins and you can spend them in a Coin Game, where you have to aim the coins to fall in certain directions. If you complete the stages in the coin drop game, you are given gifts for your Nintendo Land plaza that help make it more lively, and Bean 1 enjoys the Coin Game and finding the gifts around the plaze as well. I think Mario Chase and Luigi’s Ghost Mansion are a lot of fun, and show the fun that can be had with asymmetric gameplay, and I particularly like Luigi’s Ghost Mansion the most right now. Takamaru’s Ninja Castle mini-game is a lot of fun from my time with it, but I haven’t put nearly enough time into Metroid Blast or The Legend of Zelda: Battle Quest, and a few of the other mini-games to really have impressions of them yet.
  • Trine 2 is an eShop title, and the developers were kind enough to provide me with a code for it, even knowing I don’t do typical reviews on games. I have said it on a few other sites, but Trine 2 is the first Wii U game that really made me realize how dated our SD TV is. Why? Trine 2 looks incredible, and it plays on the TV and/or on the GamePad, but the game looks brighter, crisper, and just more vibrant in general on the GamePad than our TV. It made me realize even more it is time for a HD TV upgrade; which we are already looking  for (recommendations welcomed)! I have made it through the first level so far, and I am really enjoying the story-telling aspect of the game. The way Trine 2’s story is told, the setting for the game, and humor used so far remind me of the movie The Princess Bride; which is a very good thing.
  • ZombiU – I purchased this day one with my Wii U system, even knowing the “reviews” published by some sites were not positive. I have now completed the game, and I will say if you are wanting to play a survival horror title, even with some sense of terror thrown in, I recommend you pick this game up and give it a try. So yes, please ignore the early reviews on this game. What was my time with ZombiU? 24+ hours, I’m above average, I know! Seriously though, I am glad to see this game get developed and published, and I have had a lot of fun with it so far. Mrs. Coffee does not like zombies (in general), and would prefer to not play FPS games due to the controls. She did try and actually enjoyed ZombiU’s local multiplayer modes though, as she used only the GamePad while I was using the FPS controls with our Wii Remote and Nunchuk. If you can go into ZombiU knowing it’s not a perfect game with perhaps some glitches to be experienced, and you enjoy survival horror type games, you should find it well worth playing.
Trine 2, ZombiU, Nintendo Land.

Bold
1) The GamePad – While maybe not as revolutionary as perhaps the Wii Remote and Nunchuk combination, I think the GamePad has a lot of potential for fun and unique gameplay elements in games. The asymmetric gameplay in Nintendo Land, and even the different gameplay mechanics added in games like Trine 2 and ZombiU make me glad to see developers already using the GamePad in very different ways. I have been very impressed with how each game I have played, uses the GamePad and its features in unique ways. I really think it will be interesting to see which developer (if any) uses every single feature on the Wii U GamePad, in some fashion in a game. The speakers on the controller are actually better than I was expecting, and the volume output has been high enough from what I have experienced so far. The two little grips I wrote about from my time with the demo haven’t been an issue for me, and I have enjoyed not rushing out just yet to grab a case for it…though the Nerf GamePad cases look like they might provide the best protection from what I have seen. I really do hope that Nintendo is able to get the cost of the Wii U GamePad (and even console) down quickly, so that if Wii U owners break or experience any problems with their GamePads, they can replace them quickly and affordably.

2) Miiverse – What is Miiverse? Awesomeness. Think of Miiverse as a message board or forum, or even an ever flowing comments section for Wii U games and apps. This very feature will probably either create new jobs at some companies to help monitor Wii U owners in the game communities and help them with questions, or add a bit more of a burden to community managers at companies now that might need to start being active in the Miiverse communities. Each Wii U game and app has its own separate Miiverse community (at least of now), and I have used Miiverse in ZombiU several times; sometimes to answer questions, and a few times to get questions answered about the game. Instead of stopping the game and coming to the computer and searching, or using the Wii U’s browser option, I just hit the Home button and hop into the ZombiU Miiverse community, ask my question, hop back to the game, and check back a few minutes later to see if my question has been answered. I really, really, really like this aspect of the Wii U and that Miiverse is up and running on the system already is great to see. Miiverse allows users to use a standard keyboard input with ABCs, or hand written notes and drawings for messages using the stylus or your fingers. I have actually found the hand drawing aspect to be extremely useful in ZombiU when I got stuck somewhere. I was able to hop into Miiverse and draw a rough (very rough) map of the building I was looking at, and let them know what I was looking for. After a few back and forth comments on Miiverse, I was able to figure out what I had done wrong and continue with my game.

Overall, I have enjoyed my time with the Wii U so far, and if you have any questions about the Wii U that perhaps I didn’t answer or address here, feel free to ask in the comments below. I may have even forgotten a few of the “bitter”, “bold”, or “sweet” things I was going to include, and might be able to clarify some. If you have any questions about the games I have played so far, feel free to ask below as well.

Questions
Did any of you grab a Wii U yet, and if so what do you think about it so far? Do you agree, or disagree with any of my points?

Have you played any Wii U games you would really recommend others give a try? Are you interested in seeing any footage from the Wii U games we have right now, Nintendo Land, Trine 2, and ZombiU? If so, let me know what game you would like to see footage of in the comments below. Also, feel free to share your Wii U user name below in the comments.

Caffeinated Thoughts on the Wii U GamePad (demo unit).

November 17, 2012

Coffee Beans & Brew
There have been Wii U demo stations popping up in Best Buy, Game Stop, and even Wal-Mart stores around the U.S. for the last several weeks. We ventured out a few weeks back, but didn’t find a Wii U demo station on our first attempt.

This past Monday afternoon, after checking Nintendo’s Wii U demo locator, I ventured out to a Best Buy to give one a try. Upon entering the Best Buy the Wii U demo station was easy to spot in the middle of the store with the Wii U logo being lit up on top, helping draw attention to the unit. The Wii U demo unit on display was the white Wii U console and GamePad, which I believe is the standard color for the demo stations.

What did I think of my short time with the Wii U and the Wii U GamePad? Brew yourself some coffee and read my thoughts on the GamePad, and even find out one thing I found to be uncomfortable about the GamePad!

Caffeinated Thoughts
Wii U GamePad Weight – When I picked up the GamePad, I was actually surprised at the weight of the GamePad, as it was a little heavier than I was expecting it to be. The weight of the GamePad wasn’t an issue during my time with the demo unit though, but it does make me wonder if young children like Bean 1 might have trouble holding it up after a while though.

Wii U GamePad Screen Display – I thought the screen on the GamePad was very nice, better than I expected really. It displayed text and images well, and the screen was very bright and crisp, displaying text and images well. The video streaming to it from Rayman Legends worked well, and I found the game content displayed on the GamePad to be very good quality.

Wii U GamePad Screen Response – I knew Rayman Legends was available to play on the demo, so I scrolled through the list of games, which worked extremely well via the touch screen, and selected Rayman Legends. The touching of the screen worked well on the basic menu selection, and the use of the touch mechanics in Rayman Legends I thought were put to good use. I was able to use my finger(s) to tap, tickle, swipe, and drag enemies and objects in one of the levels, and all the touch input from my finger(s) to the GamePad screen was recognized without issue.

Wii U GamePad Comfort – While I was trying out the Rayman Legends demo, I noticed something about the Wii U’s GamePad that I found to be uncomfortable. Take a look at the image below, to see the one thing I found to be uncomfortable about the Wii U GamePad while playing Rayman Legends.

Click for full image size.

I’m not sure if the little ridges are there to add a bit of a “grip” to the controller, or if they are there due to design specifications and the GamePad needed them to make it all fit together nicely without any issues; but I did actually feel them against the sides of my palms while playing Rayman Legends, and not in a comfortable way. I’m not too concerned with the ridges though, as we will be fitting our GamePad with a protective case of some sort (still debating which one), but if you notice the ridges as I did it may be a good enough reason to buy a protective cover.

General Thoughts – The volume on the demo unit TV was very low, and being that the game wouldn’t let me stream it only to the GamePad, I’m not sure how loud the speaker output would have been from the GamePad’s speakers. Also, I did notice that the Wii U demo station looks like every game listed has an option to be a playable demo, but only Rayman Legends is the current playable Wii U game to demo, which I do find very odd. Rayman Legends isn’t scheduled to release for nearly another 4 months (if Amazon.com’s date is correct), so why Nintendo chose to not demo an actual Wii U day one launch title I find odd. I think if Nintendo wants to improve the Wii U demo stations moving forward, having more than one game available to demo would be a great place to start, and choosing a game that allows the GamePad to stream it for hearing the speaker output would be great as well.

I have just over 24 hours left as of writing and posting this piece, until I’ll have a Wii U that I won’t have to worry with hogging on a store demo. With basically a day left, I’m still debating on which game(s) I want to go with, and it might end up being a last minute decision, but I’m definitely leaning toward ZombiU right now.

Questions
Have any of you tried the Wii U demo station, or perhaps demoed the Wii U at an event, and noticed the ridges I found to be uncomfortable?

If any of you are in North America, are you planning on going to camp out for a Wii U if you don’t have one reserved yet, but want one Sunday? If you have a Wii U reserved, what game(s) are you getting with the system?

Caffeinated Thoughts on Mutant Mudds!

September 7, 2012

Coffee Beans
Mutant Mudds was released last week on August 30th, for PCs everywhere. A portion of the game’s description reads, “Love pixels? Fond of platformers? Is there a special place in your heart for the 8-bit and 16-bit era? Want to have fun? Yes!? Well, you’ve come to the right place, my friend. Mutant Mudds is a ’12-bit’ action platformer full of pixels and platforming fun!”

Being that I have a fondness for platformers, I took advantage of an early sale price and downloaded Mutant Mudds for my PC 2 nights ago, and I have already played through several of the levels. How far have I made it battling the filthy Mutant Mudds, and what do I think of the game so far? Brew yourself some coffee and take a look!

The Brew
I have made it through 15 levels in Mutant Mudds so far, with Level 4-2 being the last one I finished. Of the 15 levels completed, 14 have been the main levels and one has been a secret, or neo-retro, level. Each main level I have played had 100 Golden Diamonds spread around them, and you can collect the Golden Diamonds to upgrade Max’s equipment in Grannie’s Attic, which is located on the level select screen.

I have been playing the game with the default control setting which is mouse and keyboard, but it does support the Xbox 360 controller as an option, and it allows you to customize the keyboard and/or gamepad if you want that option as well. You can see an image of Mutant Mudds’ controls customization box in the image below to get an idea of what you can do:

When I posted up the, “Mutant Mudds gets official PC release date, price, & trailer!” piece last month, a visitor, Hover, commented about the 3DS version saying, “And even as the levels get harder and harder, you never get more than 4 minutes to finish a level.

If you own Mutant Mudds on the 3DS and perhaps have been a little frustrated with only having 4 minutes to finish levels, I have some good news for you about the PC version. Mutant Mudds for your PC has a timer in the levels, but not a set time to finish them in. I tested it in Level 1-1 and let the timer run past the 4 minute mark to make sure, and the music just kept on playing.

While Mutant Mudds for the PC doesn’t have a 4 minute limit per level like the 3DS version, finishing the levels as quickly as possible is highly encouraged in the PC version. How? The PC version has on-line leader boards that allow you to upload your times and compete against other players for completing the levels the fastest. Has my coffee drinking helped any in my speedrun attempts? The image below shows you where I was able to rank on Level 1-1 the first night of playing the game:

Coffee With Beef? Or, Beef With Coffee?

Caffeinated Thoughts
I’m really enjoying the challenge of the platforming elements in the game, and I like how the game is set on three different 2D plains that Max goes between during some levels. I can honestly see how this effect would benefit from the 3DS’ 3D screen, but the solution they came up for it on the PC works very well.

As for “enjoying the challenge”, Level 1-4 has proven to be the most challenging for me so far. Why Level 1-4? The game has fading platforms placed throughout levels, adding a bit of difficulty to your typical spiked pit jumps. The fading platforms will appear, then fade away, then appear again; with the fading/appearing pattern usually being 1-2 seconds.

Level 1-4 has a spot where you have to jump across two alternating fading platforms in a row, and beneath the platforms is a nice bed of spikes waiting to break your fall. Spikes are instant death in Mutant Mudds, no matter how many hearts you have, and I made my bed in the spiked pit many times at that spot.

This was the spot!

The image above is from the spot in Level 1-4 that I was having issues with, and it might help you understand the fading/appearing platforms a little better. I probably tried the spot 20 times, before finally timing my jumps correctly and making it across grabbing both Golden Diamonds along the way.

I think the music in Mutant Mudds fits the “12-bit” theme extremely well, with Level 1-1 and Level 2-1 having my favorite tunes so far. If you are a fan of chip-tune music in games, you can listen to (even download) the soundtrack for the game, HERE.

Like the music, I think the art style used for Mutant Mudds fits the “12-bit” theme really well. I like the brightness of the levels, and seeing small graphical details on certain objects in levels I think is really awesome. The fact Renegade Kid took time to add the little details I think is great, and if you are just running through the levels quickly though, you might miss the little details that have been added to certain objects. The screenshot below is from Level 3-2 in Mutant Mudds, and you can notice how a fire/lava heat reflection of sorts, has been added to the platforms above the lava. The platform that is up and to the left of Max’s head in the screenshot (behind the “100”), does not have the same heat reflection. Attention. To. Details.

Attention. To. Details.

I believe I have encountered all of the enemies in Mutant Mudds, and so far I think Royal Mudd and Pork Plop are my favorite enemies in the game. I remember being surprised when I was first attacked by Royal Mudd, simply because I wasn’t expecting the attack! Pork Plop has been the most surprising to me, because I wasn’t expecting the range of its attack. Almost all of the enemies in Mutant Mudds appear to be, well, muddy, and each one usually goes away in splatters when defeated.

As for the default control setting I have been using, it works well enough for me, though I can see how some might prefer using something like the Xbox 360 controller perhaps for comfort. I do suggest playing the game in “FULLSCREEN” mode though if you are using the default controls, because I have gotten to clicking away in the game and have accidentally clicked off the game screen while playing, which will cause the game to pause and can throw off your momentum.

Just based on my time with the game over the last 2 days, I definitely recommend Mutant Mudds to fans of retro-platforming games. I believe it is challenging enough for the price, and if you are picking it up for the first time don’t expect to speed through the levels right away. While it may take a little bit to learn the play mechanics and how to handle Max properly for platforming success, once you do, you should get a solid number of enjoyable platforming hours out of the game.

Questions
Did any of you purchase Mutant Mudds for your PC since its release last week? If so, how far have you made it in the game, and have you been able to place in the “Top 10” leader board on any level?

If you own the Nintendo 3DS version of Mutant Mudds, does the removal of time limits per level, and the addition of on-line leader boards make you more likely to purchase the PC version, if you haven’t already?

If you are interested in purchasing Mutant Mudds for your PC, you can do so from GOG.com, GAMERSGATE.com, Desura.com, and The Renegade Shop. If you have a Steam account, Mutant Mudds has been submitted for Steam’s Greenlight project, and you can vote for it HERE.

Caffeinated Thoughts on Nintendo’s 2012 E3 Press Conference

June 14, 2012

Coffee Beans
     Nintendo’s main E3 press conference was just over a week ago now. It was the first big showing for Nintendo’s next home console, now officially named Wii U. A year had passed since Nintendo’s initial showing of the console and some teaser trailers for it at E3 2011, but did another full year of development time for the console and games make much of a difference? Did that time allow Nintendo to bring the games and features for Wii U to their 2012 E3 to help sell the console before it’s even available for sale?
     What did Nintendo show in their 2012 E3 press conference, and what coffee roast grade do I give it? Let’s take a look!

The Brew
     Nintendo started their E3 conference by debuting Pikmin 3. While Pikmin 3 had originally been announced for the Wii, it will be able to use both the Wii Nunchuk with Wii MotionPlus controls, as well as the Wii U GamePad depending on how you want to play the game. Pikmin 3 will be the first in the series to make the jump to “high definition” graphics, and I can imagine this will help make the level of detail even better and the environment/setting for the game more realistic.

Rock Pikmin, growing a flower? Interesting.

     The next game Nintendo showed was New Super Mario Bros. U, and Reggie mentioned how the Wii U Gamepad will be used by possibly a 5th player to add additional blocks throughout the level to help players. Reggie did not mention whether the game will have any online multiplayer, and I was disappointed that information was not mentioned, or even hinted at. If I had to guess based on Nintendo’s poor online service, I would guess right now that New Super Mario Bros. U will not feature online cooperative multiplayer, but I will be GLAD to be proven wrong on that guess.

     During this portion Reggie confirmed that the Wii U will be compatible with using two of the GamePads at once, and the news was received with audible cheers from the audience. It had been one of the rumors floating around before E3, with some saying it would and some saying it wouldn’t be compatible with two GamePads at once.

     The third game Nintendo showed was a third party title (third game, third party? interesting!). The game was Batman: Arkham City Armored Edition. While I have only played a demo of the original Batman: Arkham Asylum and enjoyed the demo, it’s kind of difficult for me to get excited about this game, because I own a PS3 and can get the game on that console, and probably for a lot cheaper than the Wii U version later this year. At least the Wii U is getting the game though, and I am glad to see the developers using the Wii U GamePad for some game-play elements. Scribblenauts Unlimited was shown next, and I wasn’t that excited for it, because like Batman, it’s not an “exclusive” and will be on the 3DS as well.
    Nintendo then showed a “sizzle” trailer with Darksiders II, Mass Effect 3, Tank! Tank! Tank!, TEKKN Tag Tournament 2, Trine 2: Director’s Cut, Ninja Gaiden 3: Razor’s Edge, and Aliens Colonial Marines.

     What do I think about those games in the order shown? Non-exclusive, non-exclusive, interesting but poor trailer choice, non-exclusive, port, port, and non-exclusive. Only one of the seven games is a Wii U “exclusive” that we know of right now, that being Tank! Tank! Tank!, which I think is somewhat unfortunate.

     Reggie then started talking about Wii Fit U. Let’s just skip to the next!

     SiNG. Irony of ironies. I had not heard the song in the demo video for SiNG until they showed it at E3, then the very next day I saw a work related video…with the SAME EXACT SONG in it! Perhaps it’s telling me I should buy this game day one?

     I will say, the best part about the trailer and game I thought was the use of the Wii U GamePad displaying the lyrics for the song. I really liked that, as I think it frees people up from facing just the tv for the lyrics if they don’t know the song, and it appeared the font was easy to read so I wouldn’t have to squint my eyes to read it from the television.

     Scott Moffitt then came out to talk about the 3DS and games for it, but complained about not having enough time to talk about the games and spent nearly a minute talking about the 3DS press conference the next day. A MINUTE. That’s two 30 second game trailers. Three 20 second. Or even just one 1 minute trailer. You get the point? Complain about not enough time, and waste time complaining and promoting another conference?
     He started off talking about New Super Mario Bros. 2. He then showed Paper Mario: Sticker Star. I have never played a Paper Mario game, but I gotta say this one did get me interested, and in a console I don’t even own yet. He ended with the three first party titles, talking about Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon. Like Paper Mario, I was impressed with what I saw for the game in the trailer, and I think it looks pretty well polished. Moffit ended his time with a “sizzle” trailer for the 3DS showing off third party games. The trailer started with Castlevania: Lord of Shadow – Mirror of Fate, then Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion, Scribblenauts Unlimited, and KINGDOM HEARTS 3D: Dream Drop Distance.

     Reggie was back now showing off LEGO City: Undercover. The game looks like a cool kid friendly “Grand Theft Auto” to me, which I don’t find to be a bad thing if that’s how it turns out. I thought the trailer was very weirdly pieced together though, with certain things happening apparently for humor that left me more puzzled as to what/why they were showing it, than actually laughing (perhaps I just missed the references they were using?). The trailer did end with a nice Nintendo fan throwout though, and Reggie also confirmed a different version of LEGO City is being developed for the 3DS and will release later this year as well.

LEGO Elvis? Check. LEGO T-Rex? Check.

     After the LEGO City: Undercover showing, Ubisoft took to the stage and started by showing off Just Dance 4, which uses the GamePad in a simple manner allowing a person to select dance moves for players. Then they showed a trailer for ZombiU, and before Ubisoft’s representative left the stage, they used the game’s software and Wii U GamePad to show Reggie in his true state. A zombie.

      They ended the Ubisoft conference with a sizzle trailer of Ubisoft Wii U games: Assassin’s Creed III, Rabbids Land, YOURSHAPE Fitness Evolved 2013, Rayman Legends, SPORTS Connection, Marvel Avengers Battle for Earth. Rabbids Land and Rayman Legends are already on my “to watch” list, and possible day one purchases if we end up getting a Wii U for the Coffee House.

     Nintendo Land. Nearly the last 15 minutes of the conference. NEARLY 15 MINUTES. Nintendo Land just did not appeal to me from what I saw of it, and it definitely didn’t make me think, “Wow, so this is the incredible game Nintendo has to show for the Wii U!” Sure, some of the ideas and mini-games they showed in it look interesting and probably will be fun, but I didn’t think it was the game to end the conference with by any means.

Caffeinated Thoughts
     Overall, I give Nintendo’s 2012 E3 press conference a “Light Roast” coffee grade. While they started strong with Pikmin 3, the middle of their conference could have used more exclusive Wii U games, and I thought ending the conference with Nintendo Land was a terrible choice, and not very “strong.” Out of Microsoft, Sony, and the Nintendo E3 press conferences, I feel that Nintendo’s is the only one that did not “Start Strong, Finish Strong”.
     I thought Nintendo had the most to gain from a strong E3 press conference, but also the most to lose from a weak showing this year. If they originally overpriced the 3DS because of the strong reception at E3 in 2010, I really wonder if they won’t lose money on the Wii U for the first time in a console’s release for them, just to give it a price point that is very appealing to help move units.
     Before E3, I viewed Nintendo’s E3 press conference as smelling coffee roasting in the morning, and thinking, “Coffee is brewing, and it will be awesome and get my day started right!” Only to get to the coffee pot, and realize the coffee that was brewed was decaffeinated. That is a fail.
     Bitter – Very few details of the Wii U’s online service during the conference. No mention of friend code use. No mention of online multiplayer in New Super Mario Bros. U. No real mention of online anything, other than MiiVerse, which Reggie pretty much said won’t be available at launch. No major exclusive game announcement, that wasn’t really known about before the conference. No Project P-100 announcement or trailer during the conference. Terrible trailer portion shown for Tank! Tank! Tank!, not giving initial viewers a good idea of the actual game-play in it. Last, apparently the Nintendo Wii does not exist anymore to Nintendo, and they did not mention one single game for it during the conference (did I miss it? please tell me I did somehow). Which I thought was pathetic. I’ll stop here for now.
     Sweet – Ubisoft and Warner Bros. getting stage time and showing Wii U support, even if some of the games they showed are going to be ports. ZombiU not only having a trailer that showed the Wii U GamePad being used in a wide variety of ways, but the presentation for the game ending by turning Reggie into the “zombie”.

Questions
     Agree, or disagree? Do you think Nintendo did more harm, or good, for the Wii U with their E3 press conference? Was anything shown in Nintendo’s official E3 press conference that made you decide 100% to try and buy the Wii U day one?

If you are interested in the Wii U, you can sign up on GameStop.com and Amazon.com right now to be notified when more information about the console becomes available to the retailers. Amazon.com’s page link is below, and I will add GameStop’s when I find it (doing a simple search didn’t locate it just now for some reason):

Caffeinated Thoughts on Sony’s 2012 E3 Conference

June 13, 2012

Coffee Beans
     Sony’s 2012 E3 press conference was last Monday night, at 9:00PM EST. While I was able to watch the first 20 minutes or so, I didn’t watch much after that for the night. I was able to watch the entire conference last week though, on Thursday, thanks to the wonderful invention that is the internets and internet videos.
     What are my caffeinated thoughts about Sony’s E3 press conference, and what coffee roast grade do I give the conference? Keep on reading below!

The Brew
     The first game Sony showed in their conference was a brand new IP, titled BEYOND: Two Souls. The game is being produced by the same developer that developed Heavy Rain, Quantic Dream, and is running on an improved Heavy Rain game engine. The trailer they showed for the game was intriguing, and definitely made me wonder what type of game it will end up being. I have not played Heavy Rain, though I do know several people that have, and most enjoyed it from what I heard. I’ll be watching to see how BEYOND: Two Souls progresses in development until it releases.

     After BEYOND, Sony brought out some of the developers that are working on Playstation All-Stars Battle Royale, and demoed an entire 4-player match. It was pretty interesting, and apparently very Super Smash Bros-ish from what I have read, but I have never gotten into the Super Smash Bros. games, so I probably won’t be purchasing this either.
     Sony then mentioned several games in passing, but didn’t show any trailers for them unfortunately. These games included Journey, The Unfished Swan, and then Black Ops Declassified for the PS Vita.

     Sony then showed an Assassin’s Creed III trailer, and announced a new PS3 console bundle will be releasing this November with the game included. When I first saw the Assassin’s Creed III trailer being shown, I thought, “Is that a Pirates of the Caribbean game?”. I thought the graphics/style for the game looked really good, and an improvement over what I remember from the first game.
     Then Ubisoft revealed Far Cry 3’s cooperative mode for the first time, via a live stage demo with 4-players. It looked pretty good in action, with the level seeming pretty open, and the team had to complete at least one objective in the demo shown. They also confirmed the game will have a map editor, which I think is awesome.

Hot. Cold. Coffee is served both ways.

     After Ubisoft’s games were shown, Sony changed direction of the conference and started talking about the Sony Move controller and a new game, or software, that is being designed for it called Wonderbook.

     It’s being designed as an interactive storybook of sorts, allowing players to open a book and see items come to life on their television screens and then interact with the book and objects by using the Sony Move controller. One big announcement for Wonderbook was that Sony has teamed up with J.K. Rowling, the Harry Potter author, and will be creating a special Wonderbook title based on the Harry Potter world titled, “Book of Spells”.

Fire breathing dragons = ORIGINAL!

     After the wonderful Wonderbook presentation (SarcMark!), Sony showed off God of War: Ascension (that poor elephant creature!). It looks like it will keep the same God of War game-play mechanics as the past games, but to me it appeared that the graphics were a bit “brighter” than the past games from what I can recall? Perhaps I’m incorrect on that, as I haven’t really played any of the past games at any length.
     Sony closed out their presentation by showing The Last of Us. I have read many impressions about it, but after watching the full trailer again from their conference, I’m not really that impressed with it. While I was impressed with one thing in the trailer, it had nothing to do with the game-play mechanics, or necessarly the graphics. Kind of how I was very impressed with BEYOND: Two Souls.

     I can’t say there was much that actually surprised me in Sony’s conference, but I’m currently most interested in BEYOND: Two Souls and Far Cry 3, and even Assassin’s Creed III some (ship battles anybody?!).

Caffeinated Thoughts
     Overall, I give Sony’s conference a “Mild Roast” coffee grade. While they definitely had some great games to show, there was nothing that really surprised me in their conference. I do think Sony did a good job of sticking with the general rule of “Starting Strong, Ending Strong” when doing conferences, but the last game they showed just wasn’t something I was interested in, though that could always change, and there weren’t any games that really surprised me.
     Bitter – Not much PS Vita news for Vita owners.
     SweetBEYOND: Two Souls being announced and shown, and I believe actually being kept a secret up until the reveal. The Last of Us’ first room shown in the trailer, being a coffee shop.

Questions
     Agree, or disagree? Was Sony’s 2012 E3 press conference your favorite out of all of them? If so, what PS3 and/or PS Vita games are you looking forward to the most?