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Random thoughts and news in the world of video games.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Quick thoughts on Marvel Pinball: Civil War

Zen Studios has released another Marvel Pinball table, this time focusing on Iron Man and Captain America at odds over the Superhuman Registration act in "Civil War." Here are some thoughts on the game.

There's a neat prologue before the actual game begins. Before you choose to side with either Iron Man, who is for registration, or Captain America, who is against it, a fun multiball mini-game sets up the narrative. The points accumulated during this bonus mode are saved, and players can always start out with that score. This mode can be skipped, too, if you don't feel like playing it.

Civil War is one of the more difficult tables Zen has released recently. The goal is to pick a side and recruit allies by completing various ramp and orbit shots and other objectives. There are very strict time limits to complete these, and sometimes allies will defect to the other side if you're not playing well. You need allies when entering fight mode, where Iron Man and Captain America duke it out on the table.The more allies, the more time you have to complete various shots.

As usual, Zen has made another good-looking table filled with blinking lights and cool effects. The voice acting is well done, and the music isn't bad either.

Watch out for my full review at

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Powerball simulator lets you see how long it takes to win the jackpot

The Powerball jackpot for Nov. 28 is estimated at $500 million, and it keeps growing. We all know the long odds of winning the whole thing, but a Powerball simulator really puts it into perspective how lucky one has to be to do it, especially just picking six random numbers.

The simulator lets you choose your own numbers or the easy-pick option, and goes at a pace of two tickets each week for however long you feel like. The longer you go, the more depressing it gets. Above, I simulated up to 1,500 years, and the highest amount I won was $100 - only 13 times. I did win plenty of $4 prizes, but still spent $312,000 to win $22,837, for a whopping return of 7 cents on the dollar.

But like many, I'll still buy a few tickets with hopes of winning the big one. Because someone has to, right?

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Quick thoughts on New Super Mario Bros. U

I picked up a Wii U Deluxe on launch day and am loving every minute of it. Here are some thoughts on New Super Mario Bros. U.

It's almost 2013 and we're finally seeing Mario in HD, and Nintendo made the wait worth it. NSMBU is very polished and an amazing looking game. I love the backgrounds in these type of games, and seeing them in HD is a real treat.

Even though mini-bosses are still easy to defeat, I felt challenged early and often to complete levels with all the Star Coins. In NSMB2 for the 3DS, the difficulty ramped up more near the end of the game and bonus content after beating it. Fortunately, that does not happen in NSMBU. Other modes besides story offer speed and collection challenges that are not a walk in the park either.

The overall level design is one of Nintendo's best, and they don't feel repetitive at all. I wanted to check every pipe and search every nook and cranny for secrets, which there are plenty to find. The throwbacks to Super Mario Bros. 3, one of the best Mario games in existence, only add to the fun.

Check out my full review at

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 12 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. Houston Texans

After a devastating loss to the Green Bay Packers, the Detroit Lions look to bounce back against the Houston Texans on Thursday. Here is a simulation of the Thanksgiving Day game.

After a big 28-yard run by Mikel Leshoure to start the game, the Lions' offense went nowhere and was forced to punt. After a few more punts in an uneventful first quarter, Jason Hanson kicked a 49-yard field goal to break the scoreless tie.

The defense for both teams dominated in the second. Texans quarterback Matt Schaub was picked off by Ricardo Silva, but the Lions couldn't take advantage of it. Later in the quarter Matthew Stafford got shaken up after a brutal sack, and Shaun Hill came in for a series. Fans didn't need to worry long as Stafford came right back in.

The third quarter was all about Arian Foster. The Texans running back powered his way downfield, topping 100 yards rushing near the end of the quarter. His 2-yard touchdown run would give the Texans a 7-3 lead entering the fourth.

After more punts, Stafford and the Lions' offense were finally able to march the down the field and put themselves in great position to take the lead. But after getting to the Texans' 2-yard line, a killer holding penalty moved them back.

Then the game changer: Whitney Mercilus would burst past the offensive line and deliver a brutal hit on Stafford, knocking the ball free. Mercilus scooped up the fumble and took it back 76 yards for the score, giving the Texans a healthy 14-3 lead with a few minutes remaining.

There would be no Thanksgiving Day Miracle at Ford Field as Stafford tossed an interception on the next drive, and the Texans ran out the clock to end the game.

Stafford went 20/31 for 166 yards and one interception and Leshoure ran for 96 yards on 20 carries. For the Texans, Foster had a monster day, running 122 yards on 32 carries and one TD.

Madden record: 7-4

Real record: 4-6

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

iPad, Wii U top choices on kids' holiday wish lists, according to Nielsen study

What do kids want for Christmas? According to a Nielsen study, Apple and Nintendo products.

The annual survey asks kids ages 6-12 what electronic devices interest them the most as the holiday season approaches. Leading the list is the iPad at 48 percent, followed by the Wii U, the brand-new Nintendo console that just released, at 39 percent. Rounding out the top five are the iPod Touch, iPad Mini and iPhone. Yes, 6-year-olds are asking for iPhones for Christmas. Funny, and kind of sad at the same time.

Other notable items include the Kinect add-on for the Xbox 360 at 31 percent, Nintendo 3DS/3DS XL at 29 percent, the regular DS at 28 percent, Sony PS3 at 26 percent and the Xbox 360 at 25 percent. Only 14 percent of those surveyed wanted a PS Vita.

For those ages 13 and over, the iPad once again topped the list at 21 percent of those surveyed who wanted one. That was followed by a computer at 19 percent, tablet computer other than an iPad at 18 percent, Wii U at 17 percent and an iPhone at 14 percent. The Kinect is at 9 percent, PS3 at 8 percent, Xbox 360 at 7 percent, Wii at 6 percent, 3DS/ 3DS XL at 5 percent and PS Vita at 4 percent.

Apple trouncing the competition should be no surprise to anyone since they've done this the past couple of years. Maybe next year we'll see a new Xbox or PlayStation console topping these lists.

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 11 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers

The dreaded Green Bay Packers visit Ford Field this weekend to take on the Detroit Lions. Here is a simulation of Sunday's game.

The Lions received the ball first, but did nothing with it and were quickly forced to punt. Mason Crosby got the Packers on the board with a 33-yard field goal to take the early lead. Matthew Stafford answered back in a big way, finding Titus Young on a slant route, who broke free and took it 65 yards down the field for the touchdown.

A Jacob Lacey interception off of Aaron Rodgers stopped the next Packers drive, and the first quarter ended with a 7-3 lead for the Lions.

The second quarter began great for Lions. Forced to punt, they recovered the fumble on the return to get the ball back in good field position. Jason Hanson kicked a short 19-yard field goal to make it 10-3.

As the Packers moved with ease on the next drive, Rodgers threw his second interception of the game, this time to Ricardo Silva. Stafford and company made sure the Packers paid for it as Mikel Leshoure capped off an impressive drive with a 2-yard TD run to give the Lions a big 17-3 lead.

However, the Packers' offense wasn't ready to enter halftime just yet. Rodgers turned on beast mode, completing big passes, including a 23-yard TD reception to Randall Cobb to make it 17-10 at halftime.

The third quarter was looking great for the Lions at the start. The offense was moving the ball and threatening to get their two-TD lead back when Stafford tossed a devastating 83-yard interception return for a TD, tying the game and quieting the Ford Field crowd.

With momentum fully on the Packers' side, Rodgers eventually tossed his second TD reception to Tom Crabtree from 17 yards out to give the Packers a 24-17 lead. With the game getting out of hand, Stafford needed to come up big on the next drive. It didn't happen, as the Lions quarterback threw another pick six, this time for 50 yards. The dreadful third quarter ended with the Packers up 31-17.

A big fourth-quarter comeback was needed, and Hanson started it with a 22-yard field goal. But the Packers' offense couldn't be stopped. Alex Green ran in from 3 yards out for a TD, and in what some may call classless, Rodgers connected with Jermichael Finley for a TD with under a minute to go, instead of running out the clock. The Ford Field crowd booed loudly as the Packers ended their smackdown on the Lions, 45-20.

Stafford went 31/46 for 325 yards, one TD and three interceptions; Leshoure ran for 60 yards on 18 carries and one TD; and Young had a big day, catching eight passes for 172 yards and one TD.

Rodgers threw 18/27 for 265 yards and three TDs and interceptions each; Green rushed for 86 yards on 27 carries and one TD; and Jordy Nelson caught three passes for 128 yards.

Madden record: 7-3
Real record: 4-5

Friday, November 16, 2012

Call of Duty: Black Ops II sells more than $500 million worldwide in 24 hours

Another year, another Call of Duty record smashed.

In a press release, Activision stated Call of Duty: Black Ops II sold more than $500 million worldwide in the first 24 hours of release, making it the fourth year in a row a game in the franchise is the biggest entertainment launch of the year and smashing records everywhere. There were more than 16,000 midnight openings at stores worldwide and Twitter was abuzz for this annual release.

It's pretty much become the Apple of video games. The franchise has its strong vocal supporters and opponents, and rakes in monster cash every year. Even if you hate the game, you have to come away impressed. A half of billion dollars is nothing to scoff at. The gaming industry needs it, especially during this dragged-out generation.

Black Ops II is available for PS3, Xbox 360 and PC. A Wii U version will be released Nov. 18 when the new console launches. It would make a great Christmas gift for someone, but odds are they already own it.

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PS3 shipments reach 70 million; PS Move tops 15 million; but no hard numbers on the PS Vita

Sony Computer Entertainment has announced the PS3 has shipped 70 million units worldwide, an impressive number after the botched $600 launch in November 2006. Meanwhile, the PS Move motion controller topped 15 million units worldwide, but I seriously doubt 1-in-5 PS3 owners actually own one. It never did catch on like the Wii did, and I'm sure many owners bought more than one controller.

Sadly, there was no mention of the PS Vita, the successor to the surprisingly successful PlayStation Portable. All we do know about the struggling handheld is Sony has been slowly lowering total handheld sales forecasts from time to time, and the PSP and PS Vita sold a measly 1.6 million units combined worldwide between July and September. When a company combines sales like that, you know it's not pretty. Between Nov. 5 and Nov. 11 in Japan, the Nintendo 3DS outsold the PS Vita a whopping 47-to-1 - 187,077 units for the 3DS and 4,021 for the PS Vita. Even though that week saw the launch of the monster seller Animal Crossing: New Leaf for the 3DS, the PS Vita has been stuck in the mid four-figure range for weeks in Japan.

Sony has refused to cut the price of the PS Vita, which is stuck at $250 and $300 for their respective units. They're relying on big name titles like Call of Duty: Black Ops: Declassified to sell the system during the holiday madness. The problem is this game is getting thrashed by reviewers.

Smartphones, tablets and the 3DS are the kings of handheld gaming these days. The only hope for the PS Vita is to cut the price, but Sony's current financial struggles are getting in the way of that. They'll probably slash it after the holidays, but by then it may be too late to save it. I wouldn't be surprised to see Sony slowly shut down production next year, cut their losses and put all their focus on the next PlayStation console.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Former CIA Director David Petraeus featured in Call of Duty: Black Ops II

Screenshot from IGN YouTube video
Former CIA Director David Petraeus' reputation may be ruined due to a scandal involving his extramarital affair, but his video game counterpart doesn't have to deal with that mess (I think. I haven't played the game).

Petraeus' name and likeness are featured in the much, much-hyped Call of Duty: Black Ops II game from Activision, now in stores. He appears as the Secretary of Defense in 2015.

Besides Petraeus, Black Ops II also features a female president resembling Hillary Clinton and an aircraft carrier named the USS Barack Obama. Sadly, it doesn't look like Joe Biden got any love.

Marvel Pinball: Civil War coming Thanksgiving week

I haven't played a pinball game in a while, and just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday is Marvel Pinball: Civil War, the next table in this popular series from Zen Studios. The story focuses on Iron Man and Captain America at odds over the Superhuman Registration act, which if passed will force those with super powers to register with the government and reveal their true identities. Iron Man is for it while Captain America is against it. Players will have to choose a side and gain support from other superheroes.

This DLC will be available on a variety of platforms and different costs in North America:
- Pinball FX2 on Xbox Live Arcade for 240 Microsoft Points on Nov. 21
- Zen Pinball 2 as Cross Buy entitled content for PS3 and PS Vita for $2.99 on Nov. 20
- Marvel Pinball for PS3 for $2.99 on Nov. 20
- Zen Pinball 2 on the Mac App Store for $2.99 on Nov. 21
- Zen Pinball on iTunes App Store for $1.99 during Thanksgiving week
- Zen Pinball THD on Google Play for $1.99 on Nov. 21

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 10 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. Minnesota Vikings

The Detroit Lions take a trip to Minnesota this weekend in a rematch with the Vikings. Here is a simulation of Sunday's game.

On the opening drive for the Vikings, star running back Adrian Peterson fumbled the ball, which was scooped up by Ndamukong Suh around midfield. The Lions wasted no time breaking the scoreless tie, as Calvin Johnson leaped high in the end zone and hauled in a 4-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to get the early 7-0 lead.

Later in the quarter, Johnson would haul in a big 60-yard pass, as the offense continued to frustrate the Vikings' defense. Jason Hanson would kick a 31-yard field goal to give the Lions a 10-0 lead after the first quarter.

In the second the Lions did not let up. Stafford found Titus Young for a 13-yard score to extend the lead to 17-0. The Vikings would finally answer back, but only on a 41-yard field goal to cut the lead to two touchdowns.

As time was running out before halftime, Stafford found a wide open Ryan Broyles down the sideline for a 42-yard touchdown pass, his third different receiver scoring a touchdown on the day. The Lions exploded into halftime up 24-3.

After another Jason Hanson field goal in the third, Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder connected with Jerome Simpson on a simple 5-yard touchdown score. However, they opted to go for two points and failed the conversion, keeping the score 27-9.

In the fourth Hanson added another field goal, and Stafford delivered the final blow with a monster 62-yard touchdown pass to Johnson, his second on the day. The Vikings' fans went home unhappy, seeing their team get blown out 37-9.

Stafford had a huge day, throwing 31/42 for 451 yards and four touchdowns. Johnson caught eight passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns; Young with six catches for 85 yards and one touchdown and Broyles catching three for 61 yards and one touchdown. Mikel Leshoure rushed for 51 yards on 23 carries.

For the Vikings, Ponder went 18/27 for 220 yards and one touchdown, and Peterson ran for 41 yards on 15 carries and caught five passes for 64 yards.

Madden record: 7-2
Real record: 4-4

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Quick thoughts on Paper Mario: Sticker Star

I've been peeling a ton of stickers off the world of Paper Mario: Sticker Star for the Nintendo 3DS, which releases Nov. 11. Here are some thoughts on the game.

Don't get too shocked at what I'm about to tell you. Bowser is at it again. After all his shortcomings over the years, he still thinks he can take over the world. This time, he interrupts Sticker Fest, much to the dismay of the Toad population. Now it's up to Mario to collect Royal Stickers and save the day once again. It's a simple, cute story, well suited for a Nintendo handheld.

That being said, there's quite a few differences in this addition to the Paper Mario franchise that could potentially turn off some fans. There are little RPG elements in this game, since it focuses more on collecting hundreds of stickers which are used in battle. They range from attacks like jumping, hammers and fire flowers to mushroom healing items. Once a sticker is used, it's gone, so you have to search everywhere or buy them in shops to replenish your sticker album. It's a radical twist from what we've seen in the past.

The world map is set up like New Super Mario Bros., as you travel through each level to get to the end goal to unlock the next path. Each level is surprisingly long and filled with hidden secrets, which makes exploration fun and exciting. There are even multiple exits, encouraging replayability.

Watch out for my full review at

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Quick thoughts on Halo 4

The famous Master Chief is back in Halo 4 for the Xbox 360. Here are some thoughts on the game.

On Normal difficulty, the campaign took me around seven hours to complete, which is on par from past Halo games. There are two important stories going on in Halo 4. Since Cortana is getting older and beyond the typical lifespan of artificial intelligence, she is dying and going crazy. Master Chief is desperate to save her. 343 Industries did a great job humanizing the protagonist, something we rarely see in Halo games.

The other story involves the Prometheans, who don't like the Covenant and really hate Master Chief. Their class of enemies include the Crawlers, who travel in packs and can overwhelm you in a hurry; the Knights, who are smart in the battlefield; and Watchers, who have to be destroyed right away since they protect their allies and revive the dead.

The graphics are simply amazing. Halo 4 one of the best looking games on the Xbox 360. The multiplayer, one of the shining parts of the Halo franchise, doesn't disappoint either.

Check out for my full review at

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Madden NFL 13 Week 9 simulation: Detroit Lions vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

This week, the real-life Lions look to even up their record at 4-4 and keep pace with their Madden counterparts. Up next is a trip to Jacksonville to face the Jaguars. Here is a simulation of Sunday's match-up.

Punts dominated the first quarter of play, with the Lions and Jaguars going nowhere on offense. Eventually the Lions were able to move the ball, resulting in a 33-yard field goal from Jason Hanson, which would be all the scoring in the quarter.

The offense picked up in the second. After a big Mikel Leshoure reception in Jaguars territory, the running back finished off the drive with a 7-yard touchdown run to give the Lions a 10-0 lead. Later in the quarter the Lions recovered a Jaguars fumble during a punt return, giving them great field position. They capitalized on it with a 44-yard Hanson field goal.

But with under two minutes to go in the half, the Jaguars weren't ready to give up yet. They quickly moved the ball down the field, scoring on a 6-yard Laurent Robinson TD reception from Blaine Gabbert to make it 13-7 at halftime.

The Jaguars looked to continue that momentum in the third. After being forced to punt, they intercepted Stafford deep in Lions territory. However, the Lions' defense was able to hold them to a 30-yard Josh Scobee field goal to cut the Lions lead to 13-10.

In the fourth, the Lions finally answered back with a 3-yard Pettigrew TD reception from Stafford to extend the lead back to 10 points. However, the Jaguars quickly scored three more points on a 20-yard Scobee field goal to make it 20-13.

Stafford tossed another interception, but the defense was able to stop the Jaguars on a 4th down attempt, turning the ball over. Leshoure did his part to kill the clock, rushing for big first downs. Hanson booted his third field goal of the game from 23 yards out to give the Lions a healthy 23-13 lead.

The Jaguars attempted a miracle comeback, but fell short after adding another field goal and failing to recover the onside kick as time expired. The Lions left Jacksonville with a 23-16 victory.

Stafford went 23/39 for 191 yards with one TD and two interceptions, Leshoure carried the ball 22 times for 108 yards and one TD, and Pettigrew caught six passes for 38 yards and one TD.

For the Jaguars, Gabbert went 23/36 for 259 yards and one TD, Rashad Jennings rushed for 73 yards on 23 carries, and Robinson caught five passes for 77 yards and one TD.

Madden record: 6-2
Real record: 3-4

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Quick thoughts on Assassin's Creed III

I've been hopping through trees and along rooftops during the American Revolution in Assassin's Creed III, which recently released for Xbox 360 and PS3. Here are some thoughts on the game.

Ubisoft didn't hold back the details, making this setting worth the hype. Redcoats are everywhere patrolling the streets of Boston and New York, which are filled with people trying to get by in life. Historical figures like George Washington, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams and more play key roles in the game. There's a unique charm to it that American gamers will enjoy.

Fighting groups of enemies isn't difficult, and it's very Batman: Arkham City-like. The game tells you when they attack, so you can counter and disarm them easily, right before the finishing kill. Regenerating health makes combat easier, too.

Assassin's Creed III has its share of bugs as well, although it doesn't ruin the experience. Frame-rate issues, pop-in, and glitches like floating guns will happen. Patches can fix these things, but since this is such a big release, a little more polish would have been nice.

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