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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Lacey interception off of Aaron Rodgers stopped the next Packers drive,
and the first quarter ended with a 7-3 lead for the Lions.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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).
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Jeff Hoard is Assistant News Editor of the Michigan Regional Copy Desk for Digital First Media. Ever since he received the NES, he's been hooked on video games. Here he will share his thoughts on the video gaming world.