Category: Features

AJ’s (Non-)E3 2020 Roundup

The Covid-19 pandemic has made 2020 anything but typical. With nearly every major public event cancelled, it's no surprise that E3 would be among the casualties. Yet, despite there not being an actual Electronic Entertainment Expo this year, that didn't stop the big players from still making their obligatory mid-year gaming announcements. So, E3 or no, I've still got plenty of great information to round up for you.

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AJ’s Picks: The 12 Best Games of the 2010s

With the end of 2019, the 2010s also finally came to a close. And now that I've looked back on all the great games of 2019, it's time to take a look back at the decade as a whole and talk about the titles that really stood out as the very best of the best. It may have been a long 10 years, with lots of changes in the gaming world, but it was chock full of gaming experiences that were absolutely second to none. While it may have pained me to narrow so many fantastic games down to only a dozen, I have done exactly that, just for you. Here are my picks for the 12 best games of the 2010s:

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#4if

AJ’s 4 In February: Cinque di Febbraio

Well, January's over which means its time for 4 in February again. I'm sure you all know the drill - - pick any 4 games you wish and complete them before the month is out. Simple, right? Well, not as simple as you might expect. I personally haven't been able to do it yet, in four attempts. And I doubt this fifth year will be much different.

I've still gotta try, though. Nobody likes a quitter, right? Anyway, this year being a leap year means I get a whole extra day in which to do it! Will it make the difference? Maybe. It all depends on the games. So let's take a look at what I'll be playing this year.

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Greywolfe’s Four in February, 2020

Well.

It’s that time of year again.

Time to dash through four games on my giant backlog.

This year’s going to work a LITTLE differently, though.

I’m going to be STREAMING most of what I’m playing.

So let’s talk about that.

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AJ’s Picks: The 12 Best Games of 2019

Happy 2020! It's a new year once again (and a new decade as well), and that means it's time for another round-up of the best games from the previous 12 months. 2019 was another amazing 365 days of great games to play. So many great games, in fact, that narrowing down my choices to merely a select 12 proved particularly difficult this time around. In the end though, I was able to get it done, and now feel sufficiently confident in my selections. I hope you will too. So without further ado, I humbly present, my picks for the 12 best games of 2019.

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Using the Force: 6 Of My Favorite Star Wars Games

Well, it may have started a long time ago, in this very same galaxy that we are in, but the final episode of the epic, 42-years-in-the-making, Star Wars nonology finally releases today. To celebrate this historic occasion in popular culture, I've decided to take a look back at a handful of games that have made the jump from that universe since then. While there are dozens of releases I could consider from the past four decades, I've decided to narrow it down to just a few that I have particularly enjoyed and/or played the most over that time frame. So, without further ado, I humbly present to you, 6 of my very favorite Star Wars games.

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The Sony PlayStation: A 2×12-Year Retrospective

Well, it's September 9th, 2019, which means its time for another 12/12 console anniversary. Yes, today makes 24 years since Sony's very first PlayStation console was first released in North America. Though Sega and Nintendo pretty much owned the home console landscape at the time they decided to enter the frey, a combination of smart business decisions and key partnerships, in addition to some pretty massive missteps by the competition helped Sony to quickly become the dominant force in the industry. A position they have continued to enjoy for the majority of their console-making career.

​Sony first began their foray into game consoles in the late 1980s when they entered into a partnership with Nintendo to create a CD-ROM add-on called the Play Station for the upcoming Super Nintendo console. The partnership was rocky though, particularly when Nintendo went behind their back to form another partnership with Sony's competitor Philips. At one point Sony even approached Sega with a proposal to a similar partnership to the one they had with Nintendo, but Sega, unfortunately, declined. Eventually, Sony decided to abandon the project altogether in favor of creating their very own gaming system for the next console generation. This, of course, is what would go on to become the PlayStation.

After settling on engineering the console to specialize in handling three-dimensional polygonal graphics, Sony then had to figure out how to get games made for its system. For this, they mainly relied on securing hundreds of deals for third-party games, both exclusive and multi-platform. In addition, they also acquired the British video game company Psygnosis which, along with creating the fantastic wipEout series for them (one particularly excellent entry of which appears on our list below), also had the unintended benefit of resulting in a more economical, dedicated game development system for their new console.

Finally, Sony needed to figure out how to get a jump on the already long-established competition. They accomplished this in two ways. With Nintendo, they primarily did this simply by beating them to market, since their next generation Nintendo 64 console wasn't even ready for release until the following year. And with Sega, they simply found a way to capitalize on their blunders, particularly by undercutting them on pricing. By selling the PlayStation for $100 less than Sega's Saturn, they made it a lot more attractive to otherwise undecided console shoppers who couldn't quite see the additional cost benefit of Sega's offering.

Even with a leg up though, without the right games, the PlayStation brand wouldn't have lasted for very long. But great games are something that every PlayStation console has always had in spades. Read on for our list of 12 of the best ones the original PlayStation had to offer.

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AJ’s E3 2019 Roundup

Well, the 2019 Electronic Entertainment Expo wrapped up a few days ago and it was definitely a memorable one for quite a few reasons. There was plenty of exciting news from the world of video games, as well as the typical head-scratcher or two. As with most E3s, there were far too many games shown and announcements made to possibly be able to cover everything in a single post, so I went ahead and condensed it down to a more easily digestible dozen for you. So without further ado, here are the top 12 highlights I have selected that were either unveiled or reconfirmed at the event.

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The SEGA Saturn: A 2×12-Year Retrospective

The Sega Saturn was an important chapter in the history of game consoles, mostly for not doing much of anything right. Though it was a technically sound piece of hardware that theoretically should (and could) have gone toe to toe with Sony's disruptive PlayStation, a series of monumental errors on the part of Sega caused the Saturn to wither and die a tragic and somewhat untimely death at retail. Since that time, it has been all but forgotten by the majority of gaming culture but it's worth remembering for the lessons that can be learned from its various associated blunders, as well as for the few things the console did have going for it.

Sega's failures with the Saturn were manifold and they arguably began before the system was even conceived of. In the early part of the '90s, in order to compete with NEC's recently released TurboGrafx CD (as well as Nintendo's rumored upcoming Super Nintendo CD add-on (which is what essentially went on to become the PlayStation) Sega decided to develop and release their own CD drive for their popular Genesis console. Later, Sega would also release an additional, more powerful, cartridge-based add-on for the Genesis - the 32X. Both of these peripherals were largely over-priced failures that mainly served to fragment and frustrate Sega's previously growing fan base.

Despite the fact that backwards compatibility has never been much of an industry standard, the lack of it in the Saturn's case certainly didn't win it any supporters. Sega's newest console included a CD drive and a cartridge slot, yet could play neither Sega CD discs, nor any of the two previous generations worth of Master System, Genesis, or 32X cartridges. Adding insult to injury, the Saturn was announced at a price point of $399, $100 more than Sony's PlayStation. Many fans balked at the prospect of having to pay more for Sega's hardware, after having already shelled out for supefluous add-ons and media that were no longer being supported.

Finally, Sega had initially indicated that the Saturn would launch on Satur[n]day, September 2nd, 1995. However, they decided to be clever and try to get a jump on the competition. At the (very first) Electronic Entertainment Expo on May 11th of that year, they surprised everyone by announcing that it was already available, that very day, at select stores. Unfortunately, the plan backfired. Key retailers that were not let in on the surprise were more than a little upset with Sega. One store chain even responded by dropping Sega's wares altogether. To make matters worse, most of the launch games were still scheduled for release in September, leaving the Saturn with few titles to choose from during the first several months of its life. By the time the PlayStation was released, not a great deal of gamers had opted to pick up a Saturn and Sony's console quickly and easily surpassed the sales of Sega's offering.

Sega may have inadvertently sealed the Saturn's fate before (and even on) the date it came out, but that doesn't mean the console was totally worthless. To the Sega loyalists who were still willing to buy one when it launched, or the more cost-conscious fans who waited for the price reductions that followed soon after, the Saturn was still the best place to play fantastic new titles that could only be found in the arcades (if anywhere else). The games are the biggest reason why, despite all of its numerous failings, the Saturn is still viewed with a modicum of respect, and a good bit of nostalgia in certain circles. So, as a way to honor it on its 24th birthday today, we would like to present you with 12 such examples of the Sega Saturn's said sole saving grace.

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