Double Date At EGX 2015

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , ,

If your unfamiliar EGX  it is the UK's largest video game convention, a colossal mixtures of merchandise stalls, the chance to play both Indie and AAA title video games and hardware months or on occasion years before release, take part in betas, view presentations by game designers from world renowned studios, various areas dedicated to esports, have the opportunity to meet and chat with game creators, take part in cosplay and loads more.

 A small part of NEC on a quiet day

I hadn't expected to attend EGX but it turned out my housemate had bought several extra tickets on a offer earlier this year so I was pleasantly surprised when I was offered a chance to go, this was made even better when my girlfriend also managed to book a day off from work and able to join us also.
With the EGX been held at NEC in Birmingham it was quite the trip with us getting up at 6:30am and leaving by 7:20am to arrive on time (we had intended to leave by 7am but our drive overslept) but we arrive around 10am.

We arrived to a throng of people but the queues moved quickly and we were able to acquire our wristbands in no time at all but we were stuck waiting for the doors to open and the event to begin for general ticket holders.
As soon as the doors opened the horde that we were now part of were funnelled into the entrance of the massive hall, unlike similar events I attended there was no intentional pushing or shoving and everyone was pretty well mannered. I wish I could claimed to have rushed straight to the lines for games such as Star Wars Battlefront but the car journey had left me rather queasy so myself (and several others I noticed) rushed to toilets first though on the way I ran into Teams 17 mascot.

Unfortunately as I write this I am unable to access the dropbox folder of all the pictures that we took over the day, instead I am going to briefly go over the highlights of the day and make sure you guys don't miss out.
So to begin here is a scan of the event map and a link to the event page  just so you can see just how much was occurring on the day.

Now I didn't want to spend half the day queuing for several hours to play a game for 15 minutes and I've always enjoyed watching other people play games so made my way through the convention I tended to observe the AAA titles and play the smaller Indie games but even so there was so much going on there was no way to see everything, so I really advise if you get to go yourself to see if you can get a ticket for several days.

So here is my break down of my most memorable moments of EGX:

Prison Architect: These guys had an amazing stand designed to look like several cells, had photo opportunities in the electric chair and line up and finally were giving out various emote headbands.

If your curious what the big announcement they had to make at the EGX you can watch the video here starting at 8:35.

Monsters and Monocles: This little game was a blast to play and scores highly on my local coop rating, additional bonus for having some of the nicest badges and brilliant artwork. Tally Ho pass me my tea and crumpet cannon Monocle bot.

Mayan Death Robots: Having grown a little tired of Worms Mayan Death Robots is a fresh action packed entry into the artillery genre with the focus been on destroying your opponents power core rather than their robot. Turns are taken simultaneously with shots fired once the timer ticks down, I managed to rack up an impressive win streak against my fellow players as the god of lightning.

Black and White Bushido: This is a curious mix of stealth and brawler catch my eye with its thematic music and art style and kept my attention through its game play. While I do believe it needs online multiplayer to really fill its potential I see this been a hit on console stores and would love to see it on the Ouya. Also Hats off to having a awesome logo for the game and I imagine it will be popping up as several peoples user avatars in the future.

Warhammer: The End Times: Vermintide: Left For Dead meets Games Workshops now discontinued Warhammer Fantasy Setting. With Games Workshops new Age of Sigmar been a pile of rubbish and a money grab its good to see that at least the video games are amazing (With the possible exception of Blood Bowl 2 which is a good game but also a despicable money grab with basic teams been DLC). Vermintide is much more of a challenge than Left for Dead and will really require good team work, I just hope that when bots are implemented they have decent intelligence.

TotalBiscuit has a good overview of the current beta in video below.

Shadow Hand: A visual novel set in England 1770 where a noblewoman Lady Darkmoor must masquerade as notorious highway thief, ShadowHand to retrieve an incriminating family jewel and safeguard a woman she holds dear. It differers from the usual visual novel by introducing various card games that must be completed to progress. 

Sol Trader: Currently in Kickstarter but I recommend trying the demo and I believe this could be a great little game with some work.

VA-11_Hall_A: A game about been a bartender in a cyberpunk setting, I absolutely love the mechanics and artwork for this game. I highly recommend  trying the demo and grabbing this game early for just £5

Want to hear more about the big games at EGX then pop over to Euro Gamer.

There are so many more Indie games I could go into here but for now I'll leave this here and move onto the real reason your all still reading this.

EGX loot time:

Fatshark is celebrating the upcoming release of Vermintide and are offering a free copy of Bloodsports TV. 

React games is offering a prize draw for one of 100 steam keys for Super Dungeon Bros if you register for the SDB newsletter at

Total War Arena, Steam codes:

Beta Keys: 

20,000 gold and Greek Myrmidon Unit

Total War Battles: Kingdoms Steam Codes:

500 gold

Free deck for Pokemon Cards Online
This code is usable once per user account so you guys don't have to worry about it been used already.

If you grab a code please be kind and make a note in the comments.

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Thoughts on Lincoln Comic Con: A success of sorts.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: ,

After hearing about it the week before I decided to attend the "GEEKS Comic-Con" in Lincoln on the 20th of this month. I was initially wary about the amount of attendance since 3000 people on the Facebook stated they would come it was located in the Lincolnshire Showroom which is a little bit out of the way, lacks any real facilities nearby and whilst it claims it can hold over 1000 people this requires the whole building which is often not available.

With no ability to purchase tickets before hand myself and the delightful lady from Buzy Bobbins arrived shortly after the opening time at 10:30am and already the queue was circling around the building. Thankfully this gave me time to admire some of the amazing costumes (I recommend checking the Facebook page) and the queue moved very quickly, I was also able to get the general mood of the crowd and get comparisons to other events people had attended it it was all rather educational.

Paying the reasonable fee of £3 I moved inside and was not disappointed by the amount of stalls that were offering all kinds of merchandise and fun raffles, in fact my only gripe would be the lack of Fate Stay Night items and that several of the stalls were pretty much identical.

With my lovely companion signing up to the costume contest which was at 3:15pm we spent our time wandering around the stalls and had pretty much seen everything by 12:25pm, I wasn't really impressed by the guests who were charging £15+ even for an autograph and there were no other events planned during the day. More frustratingly we were informed that if we left the building we would have to queue to re-enter even though we had paid. Thankfully the cafe within the Showroom was still open and we managed to grab some seating and watch people in costume attempt to play pool and table tennis which was amusing.

The costume contest itself was bluntly a shambles, first of all  the rules surronding the contest were just bad with Shop bought costumes and homemade entries would be judged together which just seemed unfair.
Then due to the lack of space it was forced to be held in the car park, rather than separating the contestants into the two age categories and showing each in turn instead the names on the entry form were read out in order which lead to some confusion as people arriving thought they had missed the child entries and there was a lot of trouble hearing the announcer who had no microphone assistance.
Finally the judging seemed rather biased and more aimed towards awarding the prizes to suitable entries rather than costume quality the most telling moment been when (again been completely honest) a rather lackluster zombie costume somehow won third place in the children category.
The whole affair left an air of disappointment and was somewhat of a poor end to the day, however I hope that if there is another con next year these issues will be addressed.

On the bright side even the local paper which has a tendency to be narrow minded about such events (though less so in recent years with the growing popularity of Steampunk) seemed to give a fair review of the day and interviewed several people.   

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Chapter Master: Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 and 40k Mod First Release

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , ,

On the first of this month I mentioned Chapter Master the Space Marine Chapter simulator created by Duke was been re-released and having all copyrighted material removed, The key reason for this was to avoid a possible future Cease and Desist lawsuit from Games Workshop and I predicted that any further Warhammer 40k theme would be produce via mods for the core game.
What I could not predict however was how fast Duke and the Chapter Master community would do this and already both the first builds of Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 and the mods have been released.
That said this initial release of  Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 is still rather buggy and experimental (especially with Windows 10) as Duke Explains in his post:

Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 v0.70 Published Sep 2, 2015
It's been a very, very monotonous two weeks but I've finally got a working initial release of Interstellar Army Simulator 2015.  I'm going to have to ask for your patience, as it will likely be a few days before replacement images and text are provided in mod format.  I am likewise searching for free use images to serve as default ones, but this could take a million billion years so let's not even worry about that for now.

Note that the game will most likely be unstable for another patch or two.  All of the bug reports I have received since then have been saved, and will be the focus of further patches.  These upcoming patches will also be focused on hitting any text/images that were not changed.  Still, give Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 a crack and check for bugs/old text/crashes.  While you are at it you may wish to play around with the image and text modification.

Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 v0.70 is available to download here.

The Chapter Master Mod should be easy to install by simply dragging and dropping its contents into a mod folder and is available to download here.

Want to support Duke> Check out his Patron.
Further information on the mod is available over at the Bay12 Forums
Having problems with Interstellar Army Simulator and the mod? Get the last build of Chapter Master here.
Don't know What Chapter Master is? The original review is here.
Also folks please remember to check the Archives for other posted updates.

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Guest Post: Hax Monster reviews Konami classic Castlevania: Symphony of the Night

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,

Endlessly repeating the same thing in any art form rarely works. I doubt that J.K. Rowling would have gotten many readers if at the end of The Philosopher’s Stone Harry would not have passed his year at Hogwarts and would have to do everything over again the next year. In the digital department of entertainment Call of Duty constantly, with good reason, earns mockery for repeating the same tried-and-tested formula year after year after year, but still there are a few franchises who should most definitively not change themselves. Those franchises have a trusted formula that only works in one way and trying to fiddle with something like that usually ends the same as trying to improve an excellent wine by, just for the sake of variety, adding a load of cold piss. Guitar Hero springs to mind, as it’s upcoming instalment, Guitar Hero Live, seems to be completely hell-bent on throwing away all the joys of the previous games since you don’t even have to move your hand up and down the fret board during an intense tapping solo. Personally I’m also quite peeved about how all the practice I’ve needed to do Hot for Teacher on expert is as useful while playing Guitar Hero Live as a few hundred hours practice at making metaphors for reviews. Today’s metaphor-studded review, however, doesn’t concern Guitar Hero in any of it’s many appearances, but the very best of a series that also doesn’t need any change: Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.

If you’re new to Castlevania, the games are almost always about walking into the castle of Dracula, fighting your way through a fairly open 2D-environment, killing a few colourful bosses and finally confronting the big man himself. Symphony of the Night fits this bill almost perfectly, the ‘almost’ being the fact that you usually play as a member of the vampire-hunting Belmont clan while in SOTN you play as Dracula’s son, Alucard. The reason why I believe Castlevania games don’t need any change or massive innovation is that going through the entire routine from entering the castle to defeating Count Dracula feels like a pleasant ritual, like reading the paper during breakfast, and as the main storyline and structure remains the same it is all the more interesting to see how the developers fill that structure in.

Symphony of the Night was launched in 1997 for the Playstation 1, developed by Konami. It has a low-res 2D colourful artstyle and can best be classified as an RPG. You can move freely through the world, which mostly feels like a bunch of pathways that occasionally cross, and the entire place is divided up in themed areas with different creatures. Almost every room is filled with a variety of enemies. The number of foes you fight does not differ much, usually ten per room or so, but the sheer colourfulness of enemies ensures that combat is never boring. Environment design is quite empty but every part of the map feels distinguishable because of that the layout differs a lot. And fortunately, the game honoured its namesake with the very best soundtrack I’ve ever heard. Although 1997 is just before the time when sound in games became so good that you never noticed it’s deficiencies anymore, this symphony of game sound is very varied and clearly has a lot of effort put into it. Considering that the visuals make the game look like a nineteenth-century painting and that the songs sound like classic symphonies, the soundtrack fits in the game seamlessly. Other sounds than music are really well executed as well. Every weapon has a sound that gives it a nice punch and if you’re hitting things all day, you at the very least want to feel like you’re actually doing some damage.

What is quite interesting about Symphony’s structure is how you work towards your goal. The game world is technically open like a sandbox but doesn’t feel like one at all. Your final goal is to get to Dracula and you know that at the start, but the game just tosses you in the world without any instructions on how to get to the sharp-toothed bastard. There aren’t any missions or hints. You just have to explore everything to find your way and this openness is an enormous plus for the game, because if you don’t feel like fighting through way too strong enemies you can just go somewhere else and try over there. The only real kind of progress is made by finding certain objects that let you overcome all barriers of a certain kind. For instance, a magic amulet lets you unlock all magically sealed doors. Therefore, you have to find the magic amulet first and then you have to explore the newly unlocked areas behind the opened doors for a new item to unlock a new obstacle. Plot events only occur if you just so happen to be in the right place for them. What’s even more striking is that, and I’m dumping a few big spoilers here, if you haven’t reached those plot events in the game world before reaching the end of the castle the game stops entirely even though you still have half the game to go. In this second half you go through what you could see as a stupidly contrived effort to lengthen the runtime or a really original change of gameplay and setting: you go through the same map upside down. A second castle appears above the first one, completely inverted, and you fight to the centre of it this time. Level design is obviously weaker in the second half because of that moving through the rooms is not quite that streamlined as the entire place wasn’t designed for this.

As easy as the general combat is, that harsh is the game in its mentality with its lack of explanation and the difficulty you’ll have with finding new door-opening items in the world. However, the fact that so many important items are hidden so well makes you all the more satisfied when you finally do get your hands on them. Just remember to stay in the 90’s mindset and pretend the internet doesn’t exist, because if you look up the locations of everything you are actively undermining so much of what makes this game great. Patience is a must for this game, but that said I think that this Castlevania can be enjoyed by anyone willing to put time and effort into it. There is no big, discouraging, overcomplicated story or game mechanics that require you to follow an IT-course before playing, just you, some weapons and some monsters.

Pretty well-designed monsters, mind you. Enemies have all the colours of the rainbow and differ from flying swords to jumping little leprechauns. Surprisingly, with all the variation in the game, not one creature really seems out of place, except for one monkey skeleton that throws barrels as a reference to Donkey Kong. Konami too seem to recognize how well they did with the monster design, because many enemies from symphony of the Night make another appearance in Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia for the Nintendo DS. Boss battles are just amazing. Every monster looks vastly different from the previous one and gameplay-wise, defeating them is different every time. I don’t want to spoil any of their appearances to you but a few of them made me swear out loud of surprise when I first saw them.

Symphony of the Night is now considered a classic and is my favourite Castlevania of all time. It’s problems are very few, considering that it holds a very tight formula with little errors. Since that’s the point of a review, I’ll list all my little niggles here. As original as most of them are, some boss monsters could have been a bit more imaginative. One or two of them are just very standard monsters with nothing memorable about them. Also, the voice-acting on all characters, except perhaps for Alucard and Dracula, wouldn’t even suffice for a low-budget soap series. Then there’s the issue that backdashing continuously is faster than walking, which means that no-one will move the way they are supposed to. The backdash should have a cooldown of a second or so. I would also have liked it if I had to do more dodging, moving or blocking in combat with regular enemies, because as it is you just mostly have to mow foes down by only mashing the attack button which feels a bit too simple. A good example of how it should be done are the little leprechaun fellows, because the difficulty with fighting them is not hitting them fast enough before they can attack you, but managing to hit the little hopping buggers. The fact that simply mashing attack before an enemy to kill them isn’t that fun also has to do with the little variety in weapons. Every melee weapon practically feels like the same one-handed sword and there are too little spells. Spells in general can’t really be used as main weapons in combat since they serve just to give you a little bonus every now and then. Its limited use makes the entire magic system a bit redundant. Then there is one boss right before the end that is so difficult that he alone messes up the entire difficulty curve as the actual final bossfight after that is way easier. Luckily, and this is a big plus in a metroidvania game like this, you can skip that fight if you don’t feel like doing it.

If all of these problems sound petty, that’s because they are petty. What you should take away from this review is that Symphony of the Night is a wonderfully varied and original must-play that could have been launched today. It hasn’t aged in the slightest and with the lack of handholding it makes for a really satisfying experience if you succeed at it. So just go and buy it now! Or, to speak with the words of Dracula himself: ‘Enough talk, have at you!’.

Want to see more of Hax Monsters work? Then check out his Youtube Channel.

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Chapter Master Update: Chapter Master is Dead, Long Live Interstellar Army Simulator

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

Some of you hopefully remember my posts on Chapter Master a fan game by members of 4chans /tg that initially began life as a joke "what if this was a game" thread
Just as recap: it a minor project that stuttered after a few months and died until picked up by a user only know as Duke who has since created a decent simulator strategy game in August 2014 and had released several versions since as well as creating a Patron to help fund development.

However as I have feared from the start and increasingly so with the addition of the Patron Games Workshop has gotten wind of the project, thankfully Duke has done the sensible thing before the cease and desist/ inevitable lawsuit and dropped the copyrighted material but saved the engine to develop further and this was his announcement on the 29th of August.

Important Status Update Published Aug 29, 2015

Due to recent concerns, as of now, I am no longer continuing production on the 'Chapter Master' project. Any future content for 'Chapter Master' is not produced by myself or with any supervision by myself. I have also decided to stay clear of working on parody games in the future to avoid similar concerns.

Because of this I will begin production on a new game called 'Interstellar Army Simulator 2015'. Take the role of a Commander in guarding an interstellar sector from alien and renegade threats! This new game should provide a very similar experience, but with a new and original setting! It also grants more freedom to you, the player, in being able to mod and change game content*- up to and including all of the images and text fields.

I should have the new game more or less ready in a few days. From then on be sure to be on the lookout for fan-made mods.

Thanks again for all of your ongoing support,

*Changing game content limited by engine constraints

So does this mean Chapter Master is dead? Well yes and no while Chapter Master is technicality no longer been developed I suspect the first mods for Dukes engine will be Warhammer 40K themed and keep him safe from lawsuit.
There is a good chance that if the right people ask Duke will pass on his files for Chapter Master and the development will continue underground though even if this doesn't happen it will only be a matter of time until someone finds a way to explore the code for the existing 10 August release.

While this is all a bittersweet I do look forward to Dukes further developments.
Just in case though I recommend getting a hold of the latest version of Chapter Master available: [Link Here] [Alternative]

Update: The First Release of Interstellar Army Simulator is here.

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