Dave sucks at Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater HD. Available now for Xbox 360 @ $15 or 1200MSP. Coming soon to PS3.

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Video  —  Posted: July 20, 2012 in Preview

Dave unboxes the LaCie 2Big 4TB Thunderbolt edition. This hard drive cost us $569 + $49 for a Thunderbolt cable. Yes, a Thunderbolt cable is required, and no it doesn’t come supplied with one.

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/845787-REG/LaCie_9000191_2BIG_2_BAY_4TB_7200_THUNDERBOLT.html

Video  —  Posted: June 21, 2012 in Preview, Unboxing
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We just got a new capture device and figured you’d like to see it! The Blackmagic Design Intensity Extreme is a thunderbolt ready capture device that allows video streaming and capture in 1080p.

This device ran us $284 on Amazon.com

Video  —  Posted: June 12, 2012 in Preview, Unboxing

NJ Based Gaming Charity

Posted: June 11, 2012 in Article

Gamers over at http://www.extralives.org/ use their favorite passtime as a way to raise money for various charity foundations.  Since 2009 Extra Lives has raised over $90,000 to help those in need.  Every so often Extra Lives runs gaming marathons for days on end entertaining viewers while seeking funds to aid their cause.  All money raised by Extra Lives goes directly to the charities they play for.  Currently Extra Lives is hosting a Legend of Zelda marathon that is close to rapping up.  Head on over and get in some last minute donations!

http://www.extralives.org/

Dave takes a look at the current state of 4HGames and where we hope to be in the coming months.

Video  —  Posted: April 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

Review: Rhythm Heaven Fever

Posted: April 20, 2012 in Review

fever

It’s maddening more often than entertaining, but Rhythm Heaven Fever’s catchy tunes and varied, gratifying gameplay make it worth seeking out.
By Callum Rakestraw

The one and only major problem with rhythm games is the need for a good sense of rhythm to play them. And you either have it or you don’t, all but locking you out of such games if you don’t possess said sense.

Although in most cases, “good” isn’t enough; superb would be the better word. Nintendo’s Rhythm Heaven series is a prime example of this, asking players to master the beat of a myriad of wacky minigames, which range from playing golf to picking up pieces of food with a fork. They all seem deceptively simple on the surface, but turn into hellish tests of both endurance and rhythmic abilities right from the get-go. As the first installment to land on a home console, Rhythm Heaven Fever lives up to its reputation, bringing its special brand of crazy to a more appropriate format.

Chances are you might already be familiar with this series through 2009’s entry on the DS, which served as its debut outside Japan. If you aren’t, however, then the best comparison would be WarioWare with longer minigames and tighter timing. It’s an apt comparison because each minigame is radically different in theme. One moment you’re screwing heads onto robots, the next you’re dancing with a group of shrimp, or playing badminton while flying a couple of small planes, or assuming the role of a wrestler answering questions from a reporter, or… you get the picture.

The sheer randomness of it is a delight. You never know what absurd scenario you’re going to find yourself in next. The art style remains consistent throughout — a sort of anime-esque style with lots of vibrant colors — though there are some differences in terms of character design sometimes. Regardless, the style works, making characters highly expressive as they move along to the music.

Screwbot Factory: one of the earliest and easiest games, but also one of the best.

You don’t follow the tune too closely, however. It certainly does act as a guide, but a good number of the games have a separate rhythm to adhere to. Visual and audio cues that are easy to follow make up the general assortment. Though occasionally the cues are invisible and have to be identified through trial and error, because the timing is so tight that mere visuals or audio are unable to guide.

Example: A game titled “Monkey Watch,” which sees you controlling a monkey riding a hand of a clock high-fiving other simians who emerge from hatches surrounding the clock-face. The window of opportunity on it, however, is super tight. You have a split second between when the primates pull their hands back and when you pass them that you’re able to high-five them. There’s a definite rhythm to it, which you ease into easily before the “off-beat” variety starts cropping up, at which point it becomes a ton more difficult. So much so that its cues don’t manage to help even marginally. Makes me mad just thinking about it… grr. That blasted game… damn you!

Thankfully, if a game proves too hard, you can skip it entirely after several consecutive failures. All you have to do is drop by the cafe and let the barista do its thing, letting you merrily continue on to the next potentially anger-inducing game.

Rhythm Heaven, despite its hard-boiled nature, keeps up a feeling of fairness throughout. Seldom do any of the games feel truly impossible, even if you’ll feel otherwise whilst playing. It’s simply a matter of patience. Taking the time to properly learn the nuances of each minigame is the only road to success. Each game gives you a brief practice round to get acquainted with they all work, but it’s only enough to understand the basics. Playing the actual game itself is the only way to master it – trial and error, in short. It takes a long while to get the hang of the games, in this case, but you do often feel yourself getting better and better with each attempt… even if your performance does end up going south towards the end. And it will. Time after time, until you finally get it and are overtaken by a huge sense of relief and reward for completing such a near insurmountable challenge.

Generally the frustration factor is a lot lower here than it was in the DS game, though. And the controls are to thank. On the DS, Rhythm Heaven exclusively relied on the stylus for input, which saw all manner of movements: from swiping, to tapping, to flicking, and sliding, Rhythm Heaven DS had it all. It wasn’t broken, mind you; it was functional. It just lacked accuracy. Finding the correct millisecond to swipe is a lot harder than discerning the moment to tap a button. Less delay, looser timing.

Fever only uses a few buttons: A, B, A and B, or some combination thereof, but never all three at once. Such a basic configuration ensures that everything runs smoothly, eliminating the feel that the controls are at fault for failure.

Slashing demons proves to be one of the more unusual activities available.

Rhythm Heaven has 50 games total, all spread among ten sets of five, each culminating in a remix that combines the four games of that row into one long song, swapping between games at rapid pace. They act as the ultimate test of your abilities, to see how good a player you are. Each remix has a consistent theme, both visually and musically. A tropical motif dresses characters in beachside apparel, backgrounds made colorful and sunny as a jubilant tune beats along to the steady rhythms beneath each game.

As the very crux of Rhythm Heaven, the music is as infectious as it is varied, subtle sound effects fleshing out the compositions to their fullest. Tracks move in symmetry to your actions, attaining a harmonious performance that only the most carefully crafted music games can achieve. Most, if not all of its soundtrack is sure to stick with you, frequently playing in the back of your head.

Fever contains a healthy amount of re-playability as well. From medals earned from superb performances and the extra games unlocked from obtaining them, to the set of activities devoted for cooperative play, Rhythm Heaven Fever ensures you’ll get the most out of its entrancing experience.

Final Score – 9.0

As one of the last games to come from Nintendo before it retires the Wii in favor of its tablet-controlled successor, chances are this game will see a small audience as everyone begins packing away their consoles. Even so, at least Nintendo is sending off the Wii with a bang, having saved its best for last. If you still have your Wii set-up, or are willing to bring it back out for another spin, then Rhythm Heaven Fever is well worth your time.

journey
By Callum Rakestraw

A magical multiplayer experience.
Journey is a very simple game. It’s about a journey to a mountain far in the distance through a land buried by sand. That’s it. And yet, for such a basic premise, Journey is quite complex. It elicits a web of emotions, running the gantlet from happiness to sadness, from excitement to despair, and so much more, all over the course of a two hour trip. It establishes connections between players — strong ones — without words, but merely through each other’s company, facing the trek together.

It’s so much more than Thatgamecompany’s previous works, because it doesn’t feel purely experimental (flOw) or overtly artsy (Flower). It’s a game trying something new and confident in its ideas, never beating you over the head with its themes; precisely what a game like this should be.

Journey tells a wordless story. Its tale of an expedition to a mountain is an enigmatic one, using visuals, music, and gameplay to convey. You control a figure in a red cloak who’s able to interact with cloth and tapestry in mysterious ways, such as restoring damaged strands or calling on clusters of living tapestry pieces to ascend. What you are, exactly, is never explained or even hinted at, just as the world and what happened to it is never told. Murals hint at a civilization that once was, remnants of buried structures lending a sense of what the world looked like at one time. Journey never makes anything clear, however; it always shrouds the land in the unknown.

Movement is Journey’s sole function. All of the game’s mechanics serve that one point. Flight overcomes obstacles and lets you cover ground quickly (a frequently growing scarf your character wears powers this ability). Speech calls on creatures who will recharge your jump/flight abilities and carry you onward and upward. There are no battles, no puzzles, no challenge. Only walking.


Got a long ways to go. At least you won’t be alone.

This journey isn’t one you have to take alone, though. Throughout your travels you’ll randomly encounter other players out of the blue. No notification that someone has entered is given, nor is their PlayStation Network ID shown. They just appear; strangers walking the same road as you. Strangers that you’re able to accompany, should you choose. Nothing ahead of you is impossible to achieve without another person, so it is entirely possible to go on alone. Just keep running forward, ignoring the cries of the person trying to grab your attention. They’ll fall behind eventually. But it is awfully lonely out there…

Moving forward alone is a different experience than a shared one. Crossing the seemingly endless dunes alone doesn’t affect anything on a mechanical level, but on an emotional level.

That’s what’s special about multiplayer in Journey. Even with no actual speech (you can only chirp at varying tempos), and no clear identity, somehow bonds manage to be forged. Something changes after you meet another. Suddenly you become attached, afraid to leave each other’s side. Working together and assisting each other get around (you can keep each other afloat — jumping, in other words — by chirping while airborne) make a lone journey intolerable. It all just seems so… sad, trudging on alone after you’ve walked the roads before you with someone. These connections, therefore, cause unexpected separation to be that much harder to bear.

Many times throughout journey there will be times where movement is mostly out of your control. Sliding down massive inclines of sand lessens your control. Staying close to your partner suddenly becomes difficult, as they take a different turn than you. A small glow appears at the edges of the screen when your companion falls out of view, pointing you toward their general vicinity, fading gradually as you grow farther apart. And if and when they’re gone, the realization is heartbreaking. Truly.

Losing someone in Journey is painful. While there’s always the chance another player will come along, the loss never gets any easier, as its likely your first partner is one that stuck with you for most of the trip, especially so if you become separated as the end is in sight. To lose them there is downright devastating. To come so far, accomplish so much, only to be separated just as the climax is in sight… it’s powerful stuff.


Scenes like this hint at the fate of a civilization that once was.

Journey is able to achieve emotional resonance because of the music. It’s the secret to Journey’s success. A soft hum, punctuated by the occasional high note, plays in the early goings, setting the mood of mystery and wonder of the desolate landscape splendidly. Over time, the music gradually increases its tempo, starting with a playful series of flute produced beats to accompany a walk with energetic cloth creatures, and ending with the orchestra in full force as the end is just inches away. Each track introduces a subtle change in emotion to match the atmosphere of the area.

Composer Austin Wintory understands the influence music can have when used correctly. Unlike so many other games where it’s simply there to reinforce a certain tone or just serve as background noise, music is intrinsic to Journey. Its adventure relies heavily on its orchestra to carry the story along, invoke the right emotions at the very moment they’re needed.

The art of Journey is no slouch, either. It is, in a word, gorgeous. Absurdly so, even, sometimes. Both the technical and artistic aspects are incredible. The way the sand parts as you walk through it, the way it flows in the wind and sparkles under the light; the intricate decorations of the cloaks, and the ruins themselves. It’s all marvelously beautiful. Without giving anything specific away, there’s this one moment where the sun is setting as you move past a series of pillars. In this scene, the camera frames the sun between those pillars, its red glow shining brilliantly against the sand and buildings around the area. It’s breathtaking.

Final Score – 9.5

No doubt the two hour length and $15 price tag is likely to turn many away. Truly a pity, for what occurs in those two hours are more powerful and memorable than most 60 hour games are. It makes the long development processes of Thatgamecompany on such compact games clear. Because though they may be short, they’re always tightly designed and executed, nary a blemish or piece of filler in sight, and ensure that every component works in complete service to the other. A real triumph.

Aside  —  Posted: April 2, 2012 in Review