Category: Culture

Pinball at Disney World in 2017 isn’t so Magical

I found the one thing that's completely not magical at Walt Disney World: the pinball.

I found the one thing that’s completely not magical at Walt Disney World: the pinball. For starters, the parks are practically devoid of arcades now. The shop attached to Space Mountain that once had a small assortment of machines is now 100% merchandise. With Pizza Planet at Hollywood Studios being transformed into PizzeRizzo there are even fewer places to find some games at the parks, not to mention pinball.

Our home-away-from-home this time was Port Orleans French Quarter whose tiny, misshapen arcade had one pinball machine, TRON Legacy. We were killing some time waiting for our bus back to the airport so I finally gave it a shot. Almost immediately my ball got wedged in one of the side lanes and the machine had to go through its auto-shaking routine three times before it was finally released. Also, any time “Shoot Again” was active it would return multiple balls so I usually had 2 or 3 in play at once.

Earlier in the trip we stopped over at Port Orleans Riverside, a much larger resort that’s basically attached to French Quarter and shares similar Louisianian theming. Their arcade was three times the size of French Quarter’s and had 4 Stern tables lined up in the back for what amounted to $0.25 per play. The first one I played was Indiana Jones and I knew it was going to be a catastrophic game as soon as my credit activated the table.

The right flipper was not only super weak but it would constantly get lodged in place. Only the ball hitting it would cause it to drop back down. Making any specific shot from the right hand side was more impossible than usual for me. Somehow I still managed to get a multiball which resulted in a satisfying explosion of chrome balls from the Ark of the Covenant. Similar to TRON though, all of the balls were returned after multiball ended for the remainder of my game. Trying to get a ball back into play with 6 of them stacked up was kind of more fun than the table itself.

Sega's Jambo! Safari was a great surprise at Port Orleans Riverside

I didn’t get to check for pinball at any other resorts on this trip but after these experiences it would probably have end with more disappointment. “Ramshackle” is the word I’d use to describe the pinball at Disney World’s resorts. As entertaining as the janky behavior was I would have preferred to fail at pinball on my own terms. The highlight of the trip as far as gaming was concerned definitely goes to Sega’s Jambo! Safari which I haven’t played in … *does the math* … wow, over 15 years! I’ve got some video of it that I’ll hopefully have posted later this week.

Taking Screenshots as a Gameplay Mechanic in Eastshade

Some of us just can’t help walking around virtual worlds and spamming on the F12 key to take screenshots. It’s more an appreciation of the environment and artistry than a desire to capture broken mechanics, and now that meta mentality is being turned into a game itself.

Eastshade is an upcoming PC game from Eastshade Studios in which you, as a painter, explore a fantasy-themed 3D world in search of the perfect scenery. Plop down your easel, frame the shot and watch as it’s “painted” on the canvas as an in-game, 3D object. What do you do with it? That’s where Earthshade takes its next surprising turn.

The game promises “interweaving micro-stories” and dynamic conversations with its inhabitants who reveal the story, items and new locations as you gift them paintings and interact with them. It makes me think of Animal Crossing with its innocent and interconnected community.

Take a look at the trailer above to see an early version of Eastshade in action. It’s not due until sometime in 2018 but if that seems painfully far off you can get a taste Eastshade with Leaving Lyndow which releases tomorrow for $4. It lacks the screenshot-painting mechanic but will introduce you to the Eastshade universe and its characters through a short, exploration-adventure narrative that can be finished in one sitting. It’ll also bolster the development of Eastshade itself so if it seems like something you want to dive into next year, maybe give Leaving Lyndow a try this week.

A Few Thoughts on Nintendo Switch Cases and Configurations

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The backs of Nintendo Switch cases are going to be so very, very busy. With the freedom to “play it your way” comes the need to inform consumers of all their options. The ‘Number of players’ and ‘supported controllers’ icons are commonplace but now we’ll have three more just to depict the various console configurations. Alongside the boilerplate safety notices and tri-lingual game descriptions it should make for an awfully garish sight. No wonder the front of the box is so simple in comparison.

The above image isn’t from the back of a box though, it’s from Fast RMX’s website so the final iconography could be more succinct. Nevertheless, all that information has to be present and will eat up even more space on boxes for marketers to tell you anything about the actual game. It’s not a big deal as there’s a whole internet out there to explain what a game is like but with most news on the Switch these days, this little tidbit raise more questions.

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It’s been taken for granted that all games would support all three Switch configurations (TV, Tabletop and Handheld modes) but could some games simply refuse to work on the go? With the alleged performance drop when the Switch is undocked could some games run so poorly that Nintendo would require them to disable on-the-go play?

If there’s a performance edge to be gained by prohibiting undocked play then at least a few studios will use it. If that gamble pays off — or if demand just isn’t there for portable play thanks to the battery life —  I could see the majority of Switch games going “TV Mode” exclusive. It’s just a thought, I’m sure there are details out there already in subreddits and forums but I wanted to throw it out there in the crazy chance that I’m onto something.

I’m Providing a Valuable Zombie Workout Service

You just don’t realize how much a game means to some people until it goes away. Running Delisted Games has brought all kinds of people to me, usually lamenting the loss of one of the hundreds of games I’ve dug into. It feels good to provide them a page to mourn the loss of a favorite game but sometimes I can go a little deeper.

I really didn’t know how many people regularly used and relied on Xbox Fitness until I got my first Delisted video online. People have been requesting uploads of specific workout and this past weekend I finally got everything recorded that I still have access to. Sadly, it isn’t much but I did get to record the 2-part Zombies workout. Yes, there are even zombies in fitness videos now.

It’s really peculiar. It feels like an FMV game — fitting, as it’s produced by SUMO Digital, the team behind the actual FMV game Intel Discovered — only you don’t have any control over how things happen. Instead, the team of survivors do a typical workout routine for a few minutes and then you repeat the sequences as they rush to a new safe location. It’s really something to see as the cast tries to apply burpees, walking push-ups and high jumps to zombie encounters.

Whether you exercise alongside them or not, those two videos in particular are worth queuing up sometime.

Achieving: Stealthy Steampunk Satisfaction in The Swindle

Achieving: Stealthy Steampunk Satisfaction in The Swindle

I started out not thinking The Swindle was very good. It wants to combine Spelunky with Mark of the Ninja into a roguelike stealth/action game but the finicky controls keep it from feeling as solid and reliable as its predecessors. Nevertheless, it’s got style, an amazing soundtrack and some clever gadgets tucked up its sleeves.

Completing the game in 100 days feels as much like an accounting class as it does a heist. You need to raise over £500,000 to access all the districts leading up to Scotland Yard where the game’s McGuffin is stashed. You’ll never do it by farming the starting area in the slums so you initially have to be choosy about which of the 30+ upgrades you buy. One of them is a teleporter that lets you zip through solid walls, obviously decreasing the difficulty, and the other is a computer you can use to extend the 100-day deadline (for an exponential fee).

I managed to rely on neither of them and was still well prepared for the major swindle… until I boned it up. In the final stretch I slid off of a wall directly in front of the last guard who stood between me and the goal. I’ll take the blame on that one after a nerve wracking hour spent infiltrating the place, but that mechanic has dropped me into trouble numerous times before. See, it’s finicky.

Second attempt and it’s getting a little later than I wanted to be up playing. Once again I gingerly explore the randomly generated tower which, this time, is filled with sound detecting bots that launch out a flurry of thief-seeking, one-shot drones. Super. After even more time with this tower I’ve finally quelled the opposition in total silence and set up a path to run straight out in case something tricky happens after I grab the goods (which I’d never done up to this point). After the requisite pause for effect, I grabbed it and ran on my pre-planned path, completely uneventfully to the finale of the game. That there. That felt good.

The A-rank I was given only made me feel better so I reloaded my save and set off for another Trophy: to Ghost a bank while killing every enemy. It was essentially what I’d just pulled off on the final mission only with slightly less opposition so I had it done in about 25 more minutes. Icing on the cake for the evening, and another Ultra Rare, less-than-1%-completion Trophy was scored.

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.