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Season 16, Episode 16

If I had 300 million dollars…

We’re only 4 months into the year (working on our 5th) and studios are getting bought and sold A LOT. Maybe this goes on a lot and it’s not as big a deal or it’s smaller companies that it happens to, but this year has been a bit different with the big names buying the big names. Sony and Bungie. Microsoft and Activision. And the thing about these acquisitions are the price tags. It’s in the billions. Lots of billions.

Then Square Enix sells off 3 development studios with a pretty big caliber of franchises under their belts (also thrown into the sale as well) and it’s 300 million! Do you know just how many opening titles I’ve come up with for this post on this premise alone. Nearly 300 million. Because in a corporate world of billions being thrown around, this 300 million price tag is the sale of the century.

As interesting as that price tag is, it’s more interesting to me that something great may come of this. Square wasn’t doing anyone any favors with how they looked at success. We never could figure it out ourselves but they made 3 Tomb Raider games while feeling like the first one was a failure. How we ever got 2 more (great games, by the way) with another on the way, I’ll never know. But now that franchise and others are in the hands of a different company. Who might actually do something with their properties. And one of those, my friends, is the Legacy Of Kain series.

300 million for a new Legacy Of Kain? Sold.

Somebody buy Ubisoft, it’s been 3,182 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 15

I still miss the blade UI.

Sometimes nostalgia gets me. Most times, actually, but that depends on the subject. Gaming almost always works, though. Be it through rose tinted glasses or a scowl of regret, I have memories of things being not as bad as I remember them and others that make me wonder why I was so drawn to it to begin with.

The subject this time was the old Xbox Live Arcade. It was a different time then and we waited with anticipation of what would hit the Arcade shelf next. We’d get rumors of a remaster or just some old game being ported to the Arcade and we were there for it. In the early days of the program there wasn’t a single one of you there that didn’t play UNO for hours. And then again when the webcam came into play. Then it was poker and 1 Vs 100 and old arcade classics or sequels to them. Not to mention a few board games that were ported to the arcade and became weeknight traditions in some circles.

We couldn’t wait to shell out the $15 or so most of those titles cost back then. Today I don’t think we’d consider paying $5 to enjoy them. Can’t put a price on nostalgia though, right?

In any case, we’ve moved on to wondering what old game we played back in the day will be offered to us free through Gamepass or, now, PS Plus Premium Plus Plus Extreme (the other topic idea I had for this post).

Meanwhile…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,175 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 14

Did you just double-dip?

I recently picked up the three Rocksteady developed Batman games for the Xbox. Hey, WB, Arkham Origins could use a remaster release or something. It’s a good title amongst the three and well worth being included in the “trilogy” (which wouldn’t make it a trilogy, I know).

Anyway, it brought to mind the subject of double dipping. We’ve talked about it before. Either it’s just a game you want to revisit and need to get it on the current console you may have (my reason for these Batman games) or maybe it’s just to show support (all the Burnout copies I own on all systems).

Depending on your collection of games, it may be hard to figure out what you have and what you don’t. But, not only that, WHERE you may have it also. Is it on PC or console? And if it’s on console then which one and which version of that one. In looking at these Batman games I remembered I never actually owned them on an Xbox system (unless it was included in the free games with gold thing). I picked them up on PS3 for some exclusive content and just stuck with that system through the games.

So, here’s my question to you in this post: is there an app, website, etc, that can help keep track of your gaming library? I’d imagine something where you can log into all of your gaming accounts and it can pull from there on what you have played at least so you’d know, at one point, you played that game on that system.

If there isn’t one, there should be. And just make it easy on us. Some of us are drowning in game titles from over the years (thanks mainly to Steam sales, and free games from the console side of things).

Meanwhile…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,168 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 13

In The Not Too Distant Future..

I used to love speculating on what might be coming out in the future as far as video games are concerned. It was fun to think about what might be shown during E3 presentations or any of these Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft streams that only tell you WHEN they take place but not what they’ll show you.

I kinda stopped that a long time ago, however. Now, if they give hints or something, sure, that part is fun. But just being vague or what not, I don’t really think about it that much. Even for this show, I’ll come across a headline saying something like “Sony’s scheduled a stream for X date.” Well, okay then. I may let you know that’s happening but usually I’ll just wait until it does to talk about it. More information to work with at that point really and you aren’t throwing rumors out there to the audience.

Then you have things like the Nvidia leak we talk about near the end of this episode. Someone has already done the speculation for you in this case. And that’s fun to think about and now even more fun considering some of those things have actually come to pass in the recent months (and just last week in the case of Kingdom Hearts 4).

Most of the time things like this just feel like fan service. Take a game and put a number at the end of it (or the word “Remastered”). There you go, a rumor is born. None of it means much of anything though until it’s announced and that’s usually where I point my attention.

Announce it, and then we’ll talk. Otherwise, we’re just disappointing ourselves wondering when we’ll get the next Splinter Cell (oddly enough NOT on the Nvidia leak, by the way).

Which brings me to…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,161 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 12

Fifteen bucks, little man…

I can remember a time well over a decade ago when paying a subscription to play a game wasn’t too far fetched. I guess they still exist now? I’m not sure. Seems most died out or went free-to-play and offered other ways of making money rather than paying something monthly.

Still, playing World Of Warcraft or City Of Heroes was a monthly fee. For one game. And I paid it willingly without issue. Like it was…reasonable. I have monthly fees now that cover so much more than a single game. Game Pass sort of broke that mold, but we were still doing it with places like GameFly and some other sub services that offered a few games a month.

It may still be around for MMO type of games like the ones I mentioned earlier but you just don’t see it anymore, really. That I know of. I could be wrong and there’s a whole world of subscription games. But I’m willing to bet there’s less of them now than there were a decade ago.

Having said that, here comes Zen Studios with a subscription plan for…pinball. I never thought I would see something like this come to pinball. A subscription model. For pinball. And it’s $15 a month. I mean, I know it lets you play all their tables for $15 a month, but that’s absurd.

I have a ton of their tables and I’ve played them a lot, but there’s this whole “bridge too far” thing, and I think I found it. And I get you’re paying that to play ALL of those tables so maybe it doesn’t break down to $15 for one game, but I’ve owned most of the tables on previous versions and only had to pay once for that. Now, they’re moving to a different storefront (it’s a stretch to say “platform” here) and tables will not transfer. You’ve gotta buy them all over again. OR…pay a monthly fee to play them all. They knew this would happen and I guess came up with the subscription plan as a way to say “Hey, you don’t have to rebuy them, just pay this a month and you get all of them!”

They’ve also changed how you buy the tables as well and it’s a mess. They’re catching the right kind of flack for this and I hate to see it happen because I’m a big fan of theirs. But bad business is bad business and I hope they eventually find a way to fix this for their customers and fans alike.

Meanwhile…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,154 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 11

Welcome to PlayStation Plus Plus Premium Elite Ultimate (or Monkey See Monkey Do).

At first I wasn’t sold on this PlayStation Plus restructuring. Reading through it during this episode made me raise an eyebrow on that middle tier. I mean 400 games, I think, is worth the extra $40. HOWEVER, if they really wanted to be bold, they could have just kept the price as is and added it into the regular subscription. I think a timeline exists where Sony actually does that, but not currently where we are now.

Obviously the comparisons to Game Pass are numerous. The differences are well highlighted. You won’t get first party titles to play on day one. We don’t yet know the expanse of the library, but depending on the tier you choose, it can be anywhere from 400 to maybe 600 games. There’s little difference there, by the way, until you start looking at pricing.

To start with, I can’t even find a yearly subscription model for Game Pass Ultimate. Looking around it seems to be $180 a year, though with sales and discounts and stacking 3-Month subs, you can do it cheaper than that. Still, that’s $60 more than what’s on offer from Sony at their highest tier. If you go monthly, it’s $15 for Microsoft and $18 for Sony. Both of these will get you access to A LOT of games and both will allow streaming/downloading on PC. But only one will get you day one titles (Microsoft) and only one gives you access to EA Play (Microsoft). There’s a lot of other little bonuses you get going with Game Pass so the value seems to edge out Sony here.

If you only play on PlayStation, putting in for the mid to upper tier doesn’t seem like too bad a deal. And there’s plenty of room to grow here for Sony with everything else they have their hand in (music, movies, television), so we could see additions to the plan with movie streaming or subscriptions to other networks. But…that’s just speculation. We’ll know more in the months to come and the official rollout is in June.

Meanwhile…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,147 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 10

It’s like McDuck’s Money Bin…for games.

Just a note that we won’t have a show next weekend, but we’ll return on April 2nd.

We talk a lot about video games. Be them new, old, classic, vintage. We also bring up board games from time to time – like this episode for instance – and we’ll mention pinball on occasion.

There’s a wealth of games to be had out there in whatever form you may desire. And some of them might even be free, or really cheap. We try to let you know when the free and cheap ones come up. The Epic Games Store on PC gives out a free game every week. Amazon, if you’re a prime member, gives out games every month. There’s Playstation Plus, and Games With Gold on Xbox and Gamepass will likely be our future if our video entertainment path is any indication. There’s Humble Bundle that offers a lot of games for very little (And you can decide how much of what you spend goes to charity, the developers, or the storefront). Speaking of charity, you’ve also got the big ones like the one for Ukraine we mentioned that raised millions because for $10 you got like 1000 games. That one ended but another has come up with 170 items for only $40 (I can probably pick 3 or less games in that bundle that would regularly cost that amount so it’s a great deal).

The whole point here is that if you like games, of almost ANY type, something is out there for you and probably doesn’t require all that much for you to enjoy it (Vampire Survivors is the best $3 I’ve spent on a game ever). And in a lot of cases with these big bundle things, you’re helping others in a charity. Gaming for good, as it were.

You will likely build a backlog the likes of which you may never escape. And that’s really not a bad problem to have.

Maybe one day I’ll have another Splinter Cell in my backlog…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,133 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 09

Fair warning for those about to listen, there might be a spoiler or two for the first Hellblade at the beginning of this episode. Also, there’s vagueness around some possible spoiler stuff for Guardians Of The Galaxy as well – not the ending, mind you, but just a section of the game.

The reason I’m throwing out that warning is because we talk about some video game tropes. Two, specifically, and I don’t want to throw them out here because maybe you’re trying to avoid ANY kind of spoilers for either of those games. Having said that, however, it’s going to make it a little difficult to write about here, but I’ll try.

…10 minutes later…

Okay, so that’s pretty difficult. Anyway, sometimes tropes work. Sometimes building a mechanic that strays away from the usual gamer mentality (and I don’t mean that in a general sense but more in the habits of how we play and have played games) can be a good thing. We brought up examples from Eternal Darkness, X-Men on the Genesis, and Metal Gear Solid 2. There are elements of these games that play with the player. It’s really very creative.

One that isn’t creative, and this isn’t a spoiler for any game at all, is the one where you start the game completely upgraded and then at the end of the level it’s all taken away. You spend the rest of the game getting back to that point only to enjoy it for maybe not even a level before the game ends. I hate that trope. And underwater levels. And time trials.

There’s more to it, but you get the idea. I’m curious what video game trope annoys you the most. Or maybe there’s one you absolutely love. Let us know.

As long as we all agree to hate escort missions.

Another trope I can’t stand is when game companies NEVER do anything with good properties…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,126 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 08

To Play Or Not To Play

Elden Ring still tempts me. And I don’t completely know why. There’s no FOMO there. It’s all very self contained and…singular, in a way. It’s something that can be played now or years from now and you likely won’t be spoiled on content or story or, really, anything at all.

The hesitation comes from the history of the studio. I guess it’s a gut vs. impulse feeling. The impulse is to get it right now and start playing it. The gut feeling is that I’ve never enjoyed the kind of game Elden Ring is – just simply based on the studio that made it. They have a type…as it were. They invented a genre. One known for brutal difficulty and constant trial and error.

I have briefly given their previous outings a try. Once with Dark/Demon Souls and then again with Bloodborne. None of these have ever stuck with me. But then you watch reviews of Elden Ring and read people’s impressions and it really wants to pull you in again. But I think I can wait it out.

Something will come along to take its place in the zeitgeist. Something else will lure my attention, but I won’t forget. Because at the right price of entry (for me), temptation will come calling again. And I will give in to it. Maybe to be fooled once more, or maybe to be surprised by how well I take to it.

Either way, I’ll eventually play the game.

Also eventually, I may play another Splinter Cell…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,119 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 07

Now You’re Playing With Power, Portable Power!

I can’t speak to owning a Steam Deck. I can speak to owning almost everything else Valve has released on the hardware side of things (minus THEIR version of VR) and it makes me skeptical.

Not in the sense of what the Deck can do. But more about how much Valve will support the device. They don’t have the track record of say, Google, when it comes to making things and then killing them, but they do have a record. And it’s the record of following up. There is no “version 2” of anything Valve has made. And maybe there doesn’t need to be so far with what they’ve made but the biggest aspect I see of the Steam Deck is the room for improvement.

Watching reviews of the Deck, this thing is no slouch for a handheld device. There does seem to be plenty of room for improvement where the screen is concerned and there will always be improved performance as time goes on. Does that mean we’ll get one somewhere down the line?

History on Valve’s part says no. But I have a horrible feeling of optimism in this case.

Speaking of making something and never following it up…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,112 days since the last Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 06

Two Is Better Than One

Sequels, as we all know, can be hit or miss. And this extends to threequels, prequels, and whatever else comes before or after. Point being, is the next one better than the one that came before it?

In most media, the original stays winning, but in gaming, that isn’t always the case. There’s a lot more levels to judge on where gaming is concerned. With the jump in tech happening so fast the sequel to a game can LOOK better than the first and win out on those merits, but they can falter a bit in the story/writing department.

What you’ll usually find in gaming is that a sequel to a game is, probably 8 times out of 10, better than the original. Especially the more recent you look. Uncharted 2, Assassin’s Creed II, Mass Effect 2…all outshine their previous counterparts. But then go back even further. Was Kid Icarus 2 better than the first? Was Contra? Mario…well, that’s kind of a special case isn’t it?

It doesn’t always work but it is usually pretty close and there’s almost always some aspect of the later games doing at least one thing better than the original. The problem, however, is that if a studio can make a good first game, it might end up being a long time before you ever see them make anything new again. It takes a long time and a lot of money to make these things and when they work, you can expect them to ride that horse into the ground.

And then there’s Ubisoft, who haven’t made another Splinter Cell game (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive) in 3,105 days.

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Season 16, Episode 05

The Bungie Cinematic Universe.

I don’t really know what it means with Sony buying Bungie. As a Destiny player, I don’t think it’ll mean anything. The road map for this game seemed pretty clearly defined. They plan on wrapping it all up with an expansion next year (or maybe the year after?), and have also told us that Destiny will carry on beyond that. And beyond that is what I don’t know. I figure with the current expansions planned that Destiny 2 really won’t see much change. But everything after that and outside of that…stands to reason Sony will pull some exclusivity out of it.

But, maybe not? It’s just odd right now because Bungie is known for two things and one of them isn’t theirs anymore. And what’s left is a cross-platform, cross-save, free to play (somewhat) game. It’s something I don’t see them changing the formula of any time soon. Yes, they have other things they are working on but most of that is unknown and probably a ways off, so right now, this is all we have to speculate on.

Then there’s the media side of things. Turning the properties (well, it’s just Destiny, at the moment, really) into some sort of TV show or film. There is potential there, and maybe a lot more of it than we think. In fact, out of this purchase, I think we’re more likely to see Sony do something like that before they announce anything exclusive or otherwise with the company and property.

And speaking of Destiny, it was released a year AFTER the last Splinter Cell game from Ubisoft, and it’s been 3,091 days since the last Splinter Cell release (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 04

Don’t Believe Their Lies

There’s been a running joke on the show over the years about me not willing to drop $15 on a game on sale cause I think it could be lower or that $15 is too much. Then I’ll turn around and tell you I just dropped $250 on a steelbook or something. Proportionally, the money thing has always been a bit skewed when I talk about it.

But, it’s also a good example of how the value of something can be a point of perspective. But it is REALLY hard for me to see the perspective of the NFT thing going on. I’m still not about to tell you what to do with your money, but I will say the same thing I tell anyone who asks about making a purchase of anything – do your research. I might buy a really great TV, but that’s usually after about 6 months or so of really looking over what I want and then magnifying that even further to find the best of what I want.

I see the perspective from a seller point of view. And I can’t see how anyone that pushes NFTs doesn’t feel at least a little off in what they’re offering the buyer – and for what price.

I don’t really care that Ubisoft or any other company gets in the NFT game, but they think if you don’t buy in, you’re missing out or are completely clueless as to how it works.

They also think if you do buy in, well, they don’t actually care once you do that. Again, not going to tell you how to spend that money, but I will urge you enthusiastically to research every single bit of what you are buying when it comes to NFTs.

And speaking of Ubisoft, of course, it’s been 3,084 days since the last Splinter Cell release (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 03

Microvision Blizzardsoft

That’s pretty much what the whole show is about. There’s a time or two we talk about a few other things but really the focus is on Microsoft buying Activision.

Oddly enough, having talked about it for two hours there were still things we didn’t get to – mainly the good and bad of things or, well, if this is good or bad.

I think almost any other sort of acquisition I might be questioning the ramifications of it as well, but I’m not in this case. Activision needed new management. From the highest point on down, really. And outside of being bought like this, I don’t think it was ever going to happen. Maybe they shoot themselves in the foot enough with the government and that causes a change, but they probably had enough money and pull to skate by without worry. Although lately it seemed like the water was getting above their heads when it comes to this stuff. Given that, I’d have probably been okay with any company buying them, and I’m totally okay that it was Microsoft.

It remains to be seen how good or bad this will end up being, but hopefully it’ll break the awful cycle in that company and I feel like that’s probably good, regardless.

It would be great if someone would buy Ubisoft, cause it’s been 3,077 days since the last Splinter Cell release (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).

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Season 16, Episode 02

I think I own Hellblade on both consoles and PC. And I’ve had them now for quite some time. Years, in fact. So I’m just a little bit behind in finishing it but that’s exactly what happened over the course of the week.

I have stronger feelings about Guardians Of The Galaxy, be them good or bad, than I do of Hellblade. My complaints for the former are far more numerous than those of the latter. Hellblade is just all around good except for some issues with combat. The game looks great, the story told is wonderful, the puzzles aren’t too difficult and the acting, voice or otherwise, is top notch. This game deserved every award, praise, and accolade it received. But Guardians is the better story. At least for me, the story in GotG had more of a pull for me. And I’m not really comparing these two. You can’t. I just happened to beat them both within like 2 weeks of each other. And the story of Guardians Of The Galaxy is still sitting with me.

I’m not yet sure where I’ll go from here. I never finished Horizon Zero Dawn and that sequel is just around the corner. Days Gone is another I’ve been curious about and there’s a few smaller games here and there to jump into and some that are just ways to pass time (Pedestrian & Hot Wheels). And there’s the return to Mass Effect as well. All before Destiny’s expansion takes hold in late February.

Not a bad problem to have really on where to go next.

I could always replay Splinter Cell. Speaking of…Ubisoft, it’s been 3,070 days since the last Splinter Cell release (non-animated series or guest spot in another game franchise, remake, or VR exclusive).