Archive for November, 2015


Ever have that feeling where you wake up and find out something surprising? That happened to me a while back as I was combing through my scant emails while watching stuff.

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I won a free year of Loot Crate. I’ll admit, I was shocked. I rarely win things. I envied a friend of mine who usually stumbled upon getting free stuff all the time. I don’t even remember what contest I entered to win this, but hey, I’ll happily take free Loot Crate for a year.

For the unaware, Loot Crate is a simple subscription service where every month you get some geeky goodies based on a theme. It’s $13/month usually, though you can go for longer subscriptions that’ll save money in the long run. If you’re into fairly geeky stuff, this might be something worth looking into.

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So simple and mysterious… I wonder what’s inside…

The theme of this month’s was Combat, based on various ways to fight the world. As I only casually followed Loot Crate, I didn’t know their stuff was based on a theme every month. This is pretty neat, as it only hints at what’s in the box.

Now for the highlights:

Blizzard Entertainment “Cute but Deadly” blind bag!

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Ah yes, the wonders of mysterious toys in sealed bags that may or may not have something interesting in them. Blind bags are fascinating as hell to me, mostly in part due to Ashens’ videos on it. While I’m not a cheeky brit with a mangy old brown sofa, I am a bloody yank with a stained TV tray, so let’s go and check this out.

All of these are based on Blizzard franchises. I’ll admit I don’t follow much in terms of Blizzard games. I’ve dabbled in a demo of Diablo or StarCraft years ago, but I never really followed their stuff like StarCraft II, Hearthstone or World of Warcraft. But whatever, the mystery of the blind bag is intriguing. Let’s crack this sucker open.

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There are many things that I’m always fascinated by, and one of them is portable versions of big console games. It’s surprising to see studios small and large try to squeeze as much power out of handhelds and hopefully make a good game out of it. I collect these on a rare occasion, and thought I’d dig one out of mothballs I bought awhile back and give it a spin.

Let's OWN THE CITY! As opposed to what, Own the Parking Lot?

Let’s OWN THE CITY! As opposed to what, Own the Parking Lot?

Let’s hop in a ride and drive the mean streets, because we’re checking out Need for Speed: Carbon – Own the City for the Game Boy Advance. I mentioned buying this in an old “I bought stuff!” post from a year ago, and I wanted to see what a racing game looks on the ol’ GBA. This is an EA Canada joint, and came out on the GBA, PSP, and DS as the spinoff portable title alongside the main game. Usually the portable version is different in some ways than its console brother, so let’s check it out.

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The story’s fairly silly: You were in a race alongside your brother Mick, and a multi-car pile up by some unknown assailant caused the death of your brother and made you get amnesia.. What follows is a typical revenge plot as you work with Mick’s former crewmembers, Sara and Carter, as you climb your way to the top and dominate districts and solve the mystery.

So let’s take a look at how this looks on the Game Boy Advance…

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If you think it looks bad on a screenshot, imagine this in motion!

Oh. Oh dear. I’m not a graphics snob by any means, but wow this game looks pretty bad, even by GBA standards. Feel the thrill of going 100 mph while it looks like a casual stroll through a city road. The game runs pretty slow for a racing game. Now I know the Game Boy Advance is not a 3D powerhouse, but something is really wrong when this runs at a snail’s pace. It doesn’t help that I can barely see anything. It’s hard sometimes to see what’s ahead of you, and most of the roads are made at 90 degree angles that make it hard to make good turns. Doesn’t help that this perspective also makes swerving past traffic and other racers difficult.

One of the few modes where being in first isn't guaranteed a win.

It’s impressive how the 3D looks, but it looks like a pixely mess where I can’t see crap.

But enough about how it looks, here’s how it plays. A accelerates, B brakes, L activates Nitrous – provided the car has it unlocked, and R is the handbrake. There are four race types: Circuit, Sprint, Elimination, and Hunter. Circuit and Sprint are simple races. Elimination removes the last place driver at each lap. Hunter is a strange one: Every skill or trick you do fills up a health bar, but hitting anything or stopping loses health. It’s less about finishing first and more about finishing skillfully.

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