Tag Archives: GIMMGP

GIMMGP Jack O’ Lanterns IV: SO MANY PUMPKINS

After weeks of gorging on spooky video games and consuming mass quantities of Autumnal foods, the day is finally here- Halloween has arrived!  Of course, our favorite time of year wouldn’t be complete without a video game themed jack o’ lantern haunting our doorstep.

This year, Laura and I have chosen an upcoming title for which we are particularly excited as the subject of our pumpkin carving.  As a special treat, we thought a look back at the Ghosts of Pumpkins Past™ would make for a frighteningly fun addition to the usual festivities.  So please enjoy GIMMGP’s Gallery of Gourds, and as with every year, have a safe and Happy Halloween!

2012: Pokemon Pumpkins- Gengar and Pikachu

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2013: Pokemon Pumpkins – Axew and Wobbuffet

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2014: Gaming Pumpkins – Bayonetta 2 Panther/Snake and Shy Guy

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2016: Gaming Pumpkin – Persona 5’s Morgana

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Inevitable Spinoff Blog Incoming! Digital Draughts is Live

Earlier this year, we debuted a new column here at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play called Digital Draughts.  As the resident beer geek of GIMMGP, Chip was eager for the chance to combine two of his passions into a single series: craft beer and video games (together at last!).  With the success of these articles, we have decided to dedicate a new blog for Chip’s video game and beer pairings!

Written on a semi-monthly basis, Digital Draughts highlights the pairing of specific brews with certain titles. Typically, the beers and games will be novel experiences, with certain exceptions made for time-tested combinations.  Some of these pairs will be a match made in heaven, while others may be the couple from hell.

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Along with regular pairings and reviews, Digital Draughts will feature other tidbits on beer and video games for your reading pleasure.  To kick off this momentous occasion, the latest article features a field trip to the fantastic Adroit Theory Brewing Company; where esoteric and barrel aged beers thrive!

So please be sure to follow Chip’s new blog (which features Laura’s fantastic photography) and share the good news with your friends as well: Digital Draughts is live!

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Digital Draughts: Uncharted 4 with Heavy Seas’ Plank IV

Historically, the best series come in sets of three.  For films; Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Die Hard are typically enjoyed during the first three movies.  Many television shows start to lose interest after a third season.  Even a vertical tasting of wine usually includes bottles from three particular vintages for comparison.  Let’s face it: humans seem to appreciate collections in triplicate (especially writers when trying to make a point).

When it comes to video games, the Rule of Threes starts to get a bit muddy.  Beloved gaming heroes like Mario and Link have long since surpassed their third game, yet they continued to be adored by the gaming public. Meanwhile, some characters languish well beyond their glorious trifecta of earlier titles; overstaying their welcome and becoming a joke among the community.

When Laura and I played Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception nearly five years ago, the series seemed to have met its logical, albeit unsatisfying, conclusion.  At the time, we didn’t even entertain the idea of a fourth Uncharted title coming to pass, as there was no obvious plot carrot dangled before us.  As luck (and the appearance of a new Sony console) would have it, Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End was released earlier this year.  Naturally, this was one of the games that cemented our decision to purchase a PlayStation 4.

Eager to see how the fourth game in a previous series of three would fair, Laura and I started the game on its day of release; making sure to have an appropriately themed brew to accompany this adventure.

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For the last several years, Heavy Seas Beer (brewed by the Clipper City Brewing Company) has experimented with the unique influence of wood aging on beer.  Dubbed the Uncharted Waters series, this line of beers features different styles aged in specific barrels or wood.  Some examples include Blackbeard’s Breakfast (an imperial coffee porter aged in bourbon barrels) and Red Sky at Morning (a Belgian-style saison aged in Chardonnay barrels).  These beers are typically offered as limited releases over the course of the year.

Appropriately named, Plank IV is the fourth in a series of beers aged on woods that have rarely been used to produce unique beers.  Released in 2011, Plank I was an English ale aged on kilned poplar wood planks. Plank II in 2012 was a German Doppelbock aged on a combination of poplar and eucalyptus wood. Plank III in 2014 was a Belgian Tripel aged on Jamaican allspice wood.  For the fourth in this series, Heavy Seas took a Belgian Quad and aged it on four different woods: planks of kilned poplar, kilned cherry, Jamaican allspice, and Cuban cedar.

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The result is a very complex and rich beer that pours with a cola brown color and cherry red hues.  Plank IV has a strong odor of dates, cinnamon, and maple syrup, with a smoky hint from the wood aging.  The taste matches the nose; starting with a tart raisin flavor that leads to a rich allspice body.  There is a lingering smoked finish, that gives way to a vanilla bean aftertaste.

As implied from its origin, Plank IV tastes like a beer with a unique history.  This is no mere Belgian Quad.  There are unique notes of smoked wood and aged spices mixed with the expected dried fruit and dark sugar flavors.  This beer is an ideal match for the swashbuckling narrative and complex backstory of Nathan Drake’s latest, and presumably final, adventure.

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Of all the game series Laura and I have enjoyed together, Uncharted is the only one that has been a mutual experience from the start. Sure, there are plenty of games that I have shared with Laura (and vice versa), or titles that we individually played while occupying a shared space. But every moment of play in the world of Uncharted has been as a team.

When we last left our hero Nathan Drake, his adventuring career seemed to have come to an end. The third game showcased that if left unchecked, Nathan’s pride would lead him to ruin. Thanks to the advice of his mentor (and a few too-close calls), Drake reconciled with his wife, Elena, and started a semi-lucrative career in salvage.

Uncharted 4 opens three years later, with a glimpse into the Nathan’s current life. His days are spent rescuing cargo from damaged freight ships, while his nights are filled with domestic bliss; playing video games with Elena to decide who cleans the dishes. All things considered, Nate should be happy with his new situation. But there is a part of him that misses the old thrill of adventure, made evident by a clever combat tutorial in the form of a toy shooting gallery that Nathan has set up in his attic.

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So it comes as no surprise that Nate eagerly agrees to join his thought-to-be-dead brother on a massive treasure hunt involving mercenaries, criminals, and pirates.

For the most part, the core gameplay in Uncharted 4 is mostly unchanged from previous entries in the series, which is just how we like it. Nathan Drake still spends most of his time traversing exotic locales and ancient ruins via jumping, climbing, and (in our case) repeatedly falling to his doom. Developer Naughty Dog has introduced some new tools, such as the climber’s spike and grappling hook. These items add new verbs to Nathan’s movement repertoire, which enhance the tradition of fun movement puzzles and enjoyable action sequences.

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Alternatively, manual vehicle sequences are an unwanted and cumbersome addition to Nate’s means of travel. Poor handling and strange inertia make every moment spent driving an automobile very frustrating, which is compounded by certain terrain that is designed to be hazardous. When your car already handles like a drunk walrus, the inclusion of muddy hills only makes things worse. Fortunately, Nate doesn’t have to take the driver’s seat in every vehicle, and the moments spent shooting from the passenger side are genuinely fun.

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There is a shift in the combat to a stronger focus on stealth gameplay, which fits into the greater narrative of Drake and Company being severely underpowered when compared to the Shoreline private military company (the main baddies of Uncharted 4). While this makes for some very satisfying takedowns, it further emphasizes a problem I had with the previous Uncharted titles: combat arenas. Most of the enemy encounters bring the narrative to a screeching halt, tasking players with clearing every potential threat from an area instead of trying to avoid them altogether. I understand that in certain situations, it makes sense for Drake to take out all enemies to make progress, but repeating this action in nearly every combat scenario makes the game drag at certain points.

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Minor combat grievances and major vehicle complaints aside, Uncharted 4 is an excellent game. The increased power of the PlayStation 4 has provided Naughty Dog with the tools to make a beautiful and impressive world. The transition between each gameplay moment and cutscene is seamless, making for a more cohesive narrative than many of its video game peers.

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Without getting too deep into Spoiler Territory™, what beings as a narrative about a treasure hunter coming out of retirement transforms into a very heartfelt and engaging story about family; both biological and marital. Initially, Drake uses his brother’s resurfacing as an opportunity to have one more big adventure like those from his past. In order to do so, he lies to his wife about his plans, thinking that he is protecting her by keeping her separate from this part of his life. What Nathan discovers is that at its core, marriage is a partnership. Elena is the best teammate for which Nate could have asked, and her involvement would only strengthen his chances at finding a lost pirate treasure to save his brother.  She literally and figuratively saves Nathan on this quest, which gives him the final push to figure out what truly matters in his life.

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Like many other fourth titles after a trilogy, I expected Uncharted 4 to feel like a tacked-on expansion to the series.  I figured there would be some marginal improvements to the visuals and gameplay, along with a story that feels like so many other action movies and video games.  However, Uncharted 4 exceeded all of my initial expectations, and turned out to be my favorite in the series.

The upgraded visuals have set a new standard for video games, while the mechanics are polished to near-perfection.  The story is earnest in a way that avoids being on the nose; with complex characters and relationships that seem wonderfully out of place in an action-adventure game.  Both the treasure hunting setting and the engaging narrative are a perfect complement to the rich flavor and wood-aged notes of Plank IV.  I would definitely recommend this pirate-themed combination.

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Exciting Things Are Happening

There are several new developments going on around GIMMGP Headquarters, fair readers. Some fresh content on older blogs, a beautiful new art project, a tactical rebranding, and the debut of an Instagram account.  Let’s get to it!

PokemonPower1.1Longtime readers of GIMMGP may recall the creation of a Tumblr blog back in 2012 called Please Take One.  This site serves as a digital archive for Chip’s collection of rare and odd video game brochures.  After an extended hiatus, Please Take One is back to regular updates, and with Pokemon content, no less!  For the next several months on Please Take One, you will see multiple posts from the six “issue” run of Pokemon Power!  These mini-magazines were included as inserts in Nintendo Power back in 1998.  Pokemon Power features excerpts from the Official Pokemon Strategy Guide, fan art, a comic adaptation of the anime, and other neat goodies.  Be sure to follow Please Take One for all sorts of rare and nostalgic gaming brochures!

Meanwhile, over on Laura’s professional website, a new art project has appeared!  Titled the, “Tarot Deco Project,” this new series will feature gorgeous and gilded versions of the classic cards.  Laura plans to produce a piece for every card in the traditional tarot, starting with the Major Arcana.  Be sure to keep an eye on her website for regular updates, and check out her Instagram account for insight into the creative process for each piece!

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Finally, things are chugging along for Chip’s video game and beer pairings.  The next several combinations are planned and in the works, with many tasty brews being paired to games both relatively new and delightfully old.  He has also launched an Instagram account to share images of beers and games outside of the full length pairing posts.  With so much going on, this project has been rebranded Digital Draughts, to celebrate the delicious taste of a draught beer combined with the joy of our preferred digital pastime.  Please be sure to keep your eyes and palates here for future Digital Draughts posts, and follow the related Instagram account for all of the pours and plays between the main posts.

As always, thank you to all of our followers and regular readers over the last five years.  We look forward to sharing all sorts of creative collaborations and gaming goodness with you!

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MAGFest: Then and Now (and Now Again)

After three long years, GIMMGP is finally returning to MAGFest!  We had a fantastic time playing a pile of rhythm games and watching the Protomen perform at our last visit.  This year, Chip is looking forward to seeing all sorts of amazing video game composers in their element: a huge celebration of video games and music.

As we prepare to head out to the convention center, let’s take a look back to January 2012, when Chip and his good friend Jeremy attended the tenth anniversary of the festival that started in their little hometown of Roanoke.


About ten years ago, my friends and I began frequenting a local video game store called Captain Gamestation.  The selection was rather eclectic: a couple of bins of used games, accessory odds and ends, a pile of EGM and Nintendo Power issues from years gone by, and (oddly enough) some rare Turbo Grafx-16 pieces.  Most of these items came from the personal collection of the owner of the store, Joe Yamine.

Joe was an intelligent twenty-something who had a snarky attitude and a ponytail (both of which contributed to his overall coolness).  As gamers who were just out of high school and pretty jaded with the world, Captain Gamestation was the place to be.  We would drop by the store after our summer jobs and just shoot the breeze with Joe, all while looking for any rare finds he had come across and put up for sale.  Then one day, he mentioned that he was trying to get the Minibosses to come and play a show on the east coast, and that maybe this could become a sort of Mid-Atlantic Gaming festival for our small town.  A MAGFest, if you will.

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All of us thought this was a great idea, but we were young, and such an idea could never come true.  I mean, the only idea of a video game convention that we had was E3; that joyful world of new technology which seemed like a fairy tale that EGM told from time to time.  So how in the world could we have a video game festival in our town, much less one that would be cool enough to have the Minibosses play at it?  Well, somehow Joe and his friends pulled it off, and very soon, we were promoting this little game festival throughout the city of Roanoke.

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Since that fateful day, my friends and I have attended three more of the iterations of MAGFest (the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th versions), each of which were fun in their own way (save for the 3rd, which was a bit rough).  But none have compared to the joy we found in the first festival.  This year, my buddy Jeremy and I decided to join in the festivities at the Gaylord Hotel in Maryland for the tenth MAGFest.  As we journey down MAGFest memory lane, you will find that the top pictures are from that first festival, almost ten years ago in September of 2002, while the bottom are from MAGFest of this year, in January of 2012.  Hence why my good friend Jeremy looks much more refined (read: older) in the second set of photos.

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Here we have Jeremy in front of the sign of the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke and standing before the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor in Maryland.  Quite a change in just ten years for the little festival!  We are still not sure why the sign at the Holiday Inn welcomed the Woodmen of the World.  The average person would assume that there was an outdoorsmen convention at the same time.  We just assumed the hotel really liked Mega Man 2.

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When we arrived at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood, the festival was in full swing.  One of the ballrooms at the hotel had several banquet tables set up with rented televisions and donated video game consoles of many different varieties.  People were encouraged to bring some of their own equipment from home, so that there would be enough gaming to go around. Overall, the competition was friendly, and the wait for each game wasn’t too bad.  The highlights of those days were the original Halo and Super Smash Brothers Melee.  As for this past gathering, Jeremy and I arrived as they were setting up the MASSIVE main gaming room, which also served as the Dealers’ Hall, LAN Party Area, and the Tabletop Gaming Room.

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Here we have the orignal LAN Party Area in its entirety.  All the computers were donated, and only a few official tournaments actually happened (I recall Quake 3 and Counterstrike).  In the second photo, the significantly larger LAN Party Area is towards the back of the photo, and the table of tabletop games (ha!) in the foreground.  This year, any person could walk up and rent a board game to play with their friends.  Everything from Settlers of Catan to Clue to Snakes and Ladders were ready to be set up and enjoyed.  A nice touch, indeed.

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Good gravy, the arcade corner certainly has grown!  From the meager two arcade cabinets of Ghouls N’ Ghosts and Pac-Land, to dozens and dozens of machines!  The arcade corner at MAGFest 10 was rather impressive, with a combination of vintage titles, import rhythm games, and tons of home consoles rigged up to arcade machines.  Jeremy and I even played Ehrgeiz as an arcade game (which did little to change how odd that game is).

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During the first MAGFest, we took a little break and dropped by our parents’ house for some lunch (which was both delicious and free).  When we made our way back across the hotel parking lot, we noticed this magnificent truck.  Someone had done a very custom (read: spray paint) job on their truck, making it a vehicle covered in video games.  Each portion of the truck had different stuff on it, adding to its… uniqueness.  At MAGFest 10, another video game themed car was on display.  While the Pikachu Bug had a more uniform theme, it just seemed to lack the individuality of the original MAGFest Truck.

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Poor little Lulu.  She was the sole cosplayer at the first MAGFest.  Can you imagine that?  Of the roughly 275 people who attended the original convention, there was only one person to endure the constant harassment and photo-taking of the crowd.  This year, Jeremy and I kept a tally of cosplayers throughout the course of the day, which came out to 31 people in costume.  Here we have one of the better cosplay: a couple who came as Scorpion (with sky blue contact lenses!) and Jill Valentine.  What’s this? A Carl Winslow cosplayer is seated right next to them!  I guess that bumps the count to 32.

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Most conventions will feature several discussion panels, which will give insight into a business or industry, or allow the attendees to meet and speak with high profile celebrities and associates.  Back in 2002, MAGFest hosted a single panel on the topic of video game rock music.  It featured the Minibosses and a band known as Everyone, and it was pretty laid back and awesome.  This year, there were panels going on in five different halls throughout the course of the festival, but the only one we were interested in was the MAGFest Origins Panel.  From right to left, this panel was hosted by two of the original coordinators of MAGFest- Pernell and Rez, along with Joe Yamine and his younger brother, and two of the members of the Minibosses.  The main topic was how MAGFest began, where the idea and inspiration came from, and lots of reminiscing about video games.  I believe Joe is trying to get a video of the panel posted, and I will repost here if he is successful.

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The very euphoric highlight of the first MAGFest was the concert on Saturday night.  We were all excited to see the Minibosses play, but we were also floored by the other two bands who performed: Everyone (hence the giant “E” in the photo) and the One Up Mushrooms.  Everyone went on first, and was made up of three talented guys (two of whom were twin brothers) playing smooth electronic/rock covers of music from titles like River City Ransom and Silent Hill 2.  The One Up Mushrooms (now known as The OneUps)were an amazing video game jazz/rock band that focused on Super Nintendo classics like Mario Kart and Chrono Trigger.  The Minibosses were the headliner of the night (and the festival, I suppose) and they played a fantastic set of video game rock medleys from the early Nintendo days, featuring games like Metroid, Castlevania, and Contra.  At MAGFest 10, the Minibosses played a concert earlier in the morning (10AM!) on the “second stage” concert set-up.  I am very pleased to report that the Minibosses still rock so damn hard, even at such an early hour of the morning. (Note: We unfortunately had to miss the later concerts, sorry for the lack of coverage.  But really, who cares?  We still saw the Minibosses play).

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Finally, we leave you with a random picture of awesomeness from each convention.  In the first photo, we have a picture of the four of us (well, poor Christian is kind of there, behind my brother) with the Minibosses and Virt after their amazing concert.  On the second image, we have a shot from the Dealer’s Hall, featuring some interesting robot sculptures made out of video game consoles and accessories.

It’s a bit strange to look back at these photos from ten years ago; to see how much things have changed.  MAGFest has gone from a small gathering of concentrated awesome to a gigantic festival, brimming with fantastic things to do.  But even though the venue is bigger, and the amount of stuff to do has multiplied, the core value of the original  festival is still there: get a bunch of people together, play video games, see some solid concerts, and have a great time.  I guess the same could be said about us, though.  No matter how far apart we may be, or how much we grow, my friends and I still value the time we spend playing video games with each other, and always have fun when we’re together.

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Digital Draughts: Destiny with Dogfish Head’s Kvasir

For 2016, we are debuting a new column here at Games I Made My Girlfriend Play: Digital Draughts.  As the resident beer snob of GIMMGP, Chip is always on the lookout for new brews to sample.  He also believes that a great gaming experience can be enhanced with the right beverage.

Written on a semi-monthly basis, Digital Draughts posts will highlight the pairing of specific brews with certain titles.  The beers and games will typically both be new experiences for Chip, with certain exceptions being made for time-tested combinations. Some of these pairs will be the match made in heaven, while others may be the couple from hell.  Either way, Chip will review new games and beers for your reading pleasure.

To kick off this series of articles, Chip has chosen a modern beer based on an ancient recipe and a futuristic game with flourishes from the fantastic past.  Prosit!


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Over the life of this blog, it has been well-established that I enjoy making lists.  I am a rather meticulous person; using lists to keep track of things I enjoy, things I despise, and those things that I have yet to experience.  For this inaugural Digital Draughts post, I chose the game and the beer that sat at the top of their respective, “Cool-Looking Things to Try” lists.

Kvasir is a beer that has been on my radar for some time.  I am a big fan of Dogfish Head and their Ancient Ales.  The beer nerd in me loves the idea of using archeology and science to resurrect brewing recipes from the past.

For Kvasir, Dogfish Head enlisted the aid of biomolecular archaeologist Dr. Patrick McGovern to reproduce a long-forgotten beer from Scandinavia.  From their website:

“The recipe for Kvasir was developed with the help of chemical, botanical and pollen evidence taken from a 3,500‐year‐old Danish drinking vessel. The vessel, made of birch bark, was found in the tomb of a leather‐clad woman Dr. Pat says was probably an upper-class dancer or priestess. The analysis pointed to the ingredients used in this unique brew: wheat, lingonberries, cranberries, myrica gale, yarrow, honey and birch syrup.”

Just reading over that description blows my mind.  The thought that a brewery would use such complex food science just to replicate a beer recipe is amazing.  And instead of using the results of this experiment to produce a single keg of beer for an exclusive party, Dogfish Head is sharing this experience with the world.  Thanks to their efforts, we get a glimpse into ancient Scandinavian history through our taste buds.

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Kvasir is certainly a unique brew.  This beer pours with a fizzy head and a gorgeous red-orange color.  There are golden and pink hues that shine as light passes through the glass.  The nose is very sharp; of herbs and tart berries with a hint of honey.  At first sip, there is the crisp bite of cranberry with a bit of effervescence.  As the ale settles across your tongue, the mouthfeel of a hearty wheat beer is present.  The finish leaves no lingering alcohol flavor (despite a 10% ABV), and the aftertaste of a mulled white wine comes to mind.

I won’t lie: Kvasir is not a beer for everyone.  There is little-to-no hop character, so Die-Hard Hop Heads™ may be left wanting.  The crisp fruit flavors and effervescence makes Kvasir a great beer for fans of mead and mulled wine, or for folks who enjoy wheat beers and lambics.  Overall, I really enjoyed this flavorful brew, and this Ancient Ale paired quite nicely with Destiny.

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As 2015 was winding down, Laura and I had an important decision to make.  It’s the sort of conundrum that faces any couple who has been married for a few years, and once we have chosen a path, it would affect our lives for years to come.

Of course, I am talking about selecting which console would bring us into the next generation.  What did you think I meant?

There is a hard rule in our home concerning the purchase of video game consoles: there has to be at least five worthwhile games available for the system before we invest.  We were already proud owners of Nintendo’s Wii-U, so the time had come to pick our second favorite child.  In the end, there were more console-exclusive games for the PlayStation 4 that we wanted to play.  After drafting such a list for the PS4, we tossed it out the window and just bought Destiny instead.

Both Laura and I are veteran fans of Halo, but we wanted something with a bit more flourish than the latest installment of Master Chief’s existential crisis.  Destiny had the gameplay of our favorite first-person shooter, with a deeply immersive sci-fi world.  Plus, a complete edition of the game had just hit the market with the release of The Taken King, so win-win.

Since starting our respective characters in Destiny, the differences in the way Laura and I play have been more apparent than ever.

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Laura approaches Destiny as a creative loner.  She enjoys exploring the gorgeously rendered landscapes on each planet in the Solar System.  She takes the time to examine the flavor text of every weapon, scouring over the lore and history of this fantastic universe.  Destiny meets her enthusiasm with an engaging story of a mysterious interstellar being and its ancient adversary.  The missions she is given are meant for a team of Guardians, but with skill and patience, Laura continues to make progress in the main story.  She is the Awoken Huntress; she travels alone and with grace.

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I approach Destiny like I am roaming a gigantic playground with my friends.  I refuse to play this game without at least two companions by my side, ready to shoot some badguys and blow stuff up.  I normally skip all cutscenes, crafting my own story of traveling the galaxy in search of the biggest and loudest rocket launcher.  I am always chucking weapons and gear that don’t enhance my ability to make a flashy entrance with a big explosion.  I am the Derpy Warlock, and I will fit this car through that door.

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Destiny has provided Laura and I with the option to play as we wish, and that is fantastic.  The game is an interesting intersection of first-person shooter gameplay with the trappings of a massively multiplayer online role-playing game.  We enjoy the tense and often hectic firefights, as well as the deep world-building that frames the entire experience.  Destiny has a sense of a developed universe, as if Bungie took the time to write an entire alternate future/history for this world before unleashing it upon the market as a game.  This feeling of a lost and magical realm pairs quite well with the ancient-made-modern flavors of Kvasir.  I would definitely recommend this combination.

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Whiskey, Wine, and Wolves

[Chip] In the years leading up to our engagement and eventual marriage, Laura and I individually collected the Fables trade paperbacks.  We would discuss this wonderful series at length over the phone; choosing our preferred issues, praising certain characters while damning others, and hypothesizing what would come next for these magical tales.  When we moved in together, our collection was made whole and we have been regularly re-reading these comics ever since.

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Fables is a fantastic series that takes the fairy tales and nursery rhymes from our childhood and brings them into a modern age.  It has such an interesting concept: imagine that all of these magical characters and creatures are real, and they have been living in exile from their homelands for centuries, hidden by magic around our world.  The majority of these characters reside in New York, living in a small community run by the mayor Old King Cole and deputy mayor Snow White.  Nearly every children’s story has representation in this Fabletown, and they are policed by a single sheriff: the not-so-subtly named Bigby Wolf.  It is this gruff lycanthrope who is the main character in Telltale Games modern adventure title, The Wolf Among Us.

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It’s been almost 9 months since Laura and I started this digital adaptation of our beloved Fables.  We have mixed feelings about the climax of the story, but all good fairy tales (and murder mysteries) must come to an end sometime.  For the final episode of The Wolf Among Us, we each picked a beverage that would suit our tastes and compliment our last trek into Fabletown for the time being.  Laura selected the Big Bad Red Blend from Diageo Wine’s “Once Upon a Vine” collection, while I stuck with Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey.

[Laura] I came into this game with cautious optimism. Fables is one of those series that I have wanted to see translated to some other medium, but I cannot imagine any adaptation would live up to the comic experience. But all of the screenshots and trailers leading up to the release of the first episode looked so damn pretty. The noir-styled visuals and the bold colors fit with the aesthetic of the early Fables comics, which resembled a pulpy crime novella rather than an epic fantasy tale. Plus, the fact that The Wolf Among Us would be a separate story that takes place before the main comic gave it some wiggle room with established characters and locations.

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Overall, I was very pleased with The Wolf Among Us. The writers at Telltale made a fantastic murder mystery with characters and encounters that endear to the player. The underlying story of lesser known fables being forgotten by a partially corrupt government of famous fables illustrated a city with a tragically darker side. At the center of it all is Bigby Wolf, a character with a well-known past of being a literal monster, trying to make things right and battle against a magical and criminal force. As a fan of the comics, I enjoyed seeing new faces based on fairy tales that had not appeared in the main series. The Crooked Man and his psychopathic right-hand woman Bloody Mary made for fantastic antagonists in this game.

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The modern adventure gameplay suited the story.  I was happy to encounter impactful dialogue choices and environments to investigate rather than play a werewolf action platformer.  That being said, when the more eventful scenes would take place is where I found the engagement to break down.  These bits were hindered by my biggest complaint about the game: load time slowdown.  There were several moments where a transition from one location/event to another became a sluggish exercise in patience.

Even in the weaker parts of The Wolf Among Us, one element stayed fantastic throughout: the soundtrack.  Composer Jared Emerson-Johnson created a moody and sometimes haunting score that enhanced the plot.  Many songs from the game would be right at home in a crime thriller from the 1980s, with low repeating bass and somber electronic sounds that conjure images of a city at night.

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Now that we have finished The Wolf Among Us, I would definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for an well-crafted story and modern adventure gameplay.  It can serve as a nice gateway into the comic series, or an bonus story for established Fables fans.  With an engaging narrative and dramatic plot twists, The Wolf Among Us also makes for an ideal date night game.  Just be prepared for disappointment when you hear Bigby speak and realize it isn’t David Hayter.  (What can I say?  That’s how he sounded in my head.)

 

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Astral Breakers Mini-Review

Generally speaking, we are not a competitive gaming couple.  While each of us at GIMMGP has a genre that is our sport of choice (Chip- fighting games, Laura- racing games), these arenas rarely overlap in our play sessions.  However, there is one type of game at which we are both quite skilled and rather aggressive- puzzle games.  

Whether it’s Chip dealing out massive combos in Tetris Attack or Laura devouring piles of tasty creatures in Critter Crunch, the two of us have quite a bit of history with puzzle gaming.  Thanks to the rise of the handheld and mobile markets, we have been able to find plenty of great single-player options on our respective devices.

In spite of these portable offerings, we are always on the lookout for any fun puzzle games for two players on home consoles.  There is something wonderful about sitting side-by-side on the couch and trying to crush your loved one under a pile of brightly colored digital blocks.  Thanks to a recent release on the Wii-U eShop, the joy of puzzle game competition has filled the GIMMGP HQ once more.

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Like many puzzle games before it, Astral Breakers focuses on matching objects of like color (in this case, orbs known as Astral Spheres) and keeping your play area clear.  After dropping several spheres from the top of the screen, the cursor will begin to glow, meaning you have the option to make the next sphere an “Astral Breaker” for the current color.  These breakers are used to destroy clusters of like-colored orbs, thus keeping your play area clean while dumping loads of Astral Spheres on your opponent’s side.

Since the option to activate a breaker is within each player’s control, Astral Breakers allows for different play styles.  Some folks may choose to hold onto their breaker option, waiting until a massive pile of like-colored spheres are on the board before wiping them out.  Others will activate the breakers as soon as possible, dropping these little bombs on the board for future use.

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These options in play mean once again pitting speed versus cunning in the realm of matching colored spheres.  As Chip would try to set up two- and three-chain combos on the field, Laura would rush along, clearing her board as quickly as possible.  After numerous intense rounds with several close calls, it was Laura’s quick reflexes that won more matches than Chip’s meticulous planning.

Fortunately for Chip, there is more to this puzzler than just competitive play.  Astral Breakers features a cooperative mode called SuperNova, where two players work together to survive increasingly difficult waves of spheres being dumped onto the playing field.  SuperNova feels akin to arcade games of old, where constantly trying to improve your high score is the real goal.

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Along with competitive and cooperative multiplayer modes, Astral Breakers has a Story Mode for individual players, hosted by an adorable star named Kira.  The game also features a soundtrack of somber notes and relaxing melodies, perfect for keeping players cool during the more intense challenges.  The whole package is a wonderful puzzle title that is ideal for bringing people together to have some fun and compete for cosmic glory.

Be sure to check this game out, and while you’re at it, hop on over to the developer’s website for the equally adorable and lovely story behind the creation of Astral Breakers.

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GIMMGP Werewolves 2: Wolf Harder

Back in 2012, Chip took on the dark task of compiling a list of video games that feature werewolves as playable characters.  He did this for his wife, who was practically howling at the moon for the chance to play as a lead lycanthrope.  The games from this list sated her appetite… for a time.

Now that October is upon us once again (and Laura has grown tired of her werewolf husband in Skyrim), Chip has unearthed even more games with howling heroes.  Here’s hoping that this list will keep the beast of boredom at bay…

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Like so many spooky sequels, this list starts similarly to its predecessor- with a video game about mythological creatures punching each other in the face.  Mutant Fighter is an arcade title from Data East that features various heroes and monsters in an arena-based fighting game.  Players have the option of demi-human characters, like the Amazoness or Hercules, or beastly brawlers, like the Minotaur or Golem.  One of these fearsome fighters is a golden werewolf who uses a spinning pile-driver for a special move.

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While we may have missed out on a proper Teen Wolf sports game featuring Michael J. Fox, at least Sega released Basketball Nightmare for the Master System.  The game’s protagonist, captain of a local basketball team, starts having strange dreams about playing against supernatural opponents.  The monstrous adversaries include teams of vampires, ghostly samurai, and an adorable group of pink werewolves.

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When Contra made its debut on Sega consoles with Hard Corps, developer Konami made a few changes to the classic action series.  A slide technique was included to the character movements, branching paths were introduced to the storyline, and a cybernetic-freaking-werewolf was added to the list of playable characters.  Known as Brad Fang, this wolfen soldier defeats enemies with a psychic cannon and powerful robotic punch.  He also wears sunglasses all the time, which is totally badass.

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As noted by good friend and faithful reader Christian in the last GIMMGP Werewolves article, the Druid class in Diablo 2 has a skill tree completed dedicated to lycanthropy.  Since the release of this PC gaming classic, many players have shared walkthroughs to craft character builds that make for ultimate werewolf playthroughs.  Chip’s favorite of these builds- FURY WEREWOLF.

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Laura’s latest television obsession has been the British series Wolfblood.  The show centers around teenager Maddy Smith and her family, all of whom can transform into wolves.  Known as wolfbloods, the Smith family hides among humans in the small British town of Stoneybridge.  The main plot of the series is a mix of high school life and supernatural drama, often focusing on Maddy and her family trying to keep their wolfblood nature a secret, despite numerous forces working against them.  The show is well-made and in spite of some clichéd young adult story elements, Wolfblood is a series worth watching.  A mobile game tie-in called Shadow Runners has been released on iPad and Android devices.  Players take control of wolfblood characters from the television series in runner-style gameplay.

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High-caliber military gunplay and the ability to morph into ravenous, bloodthirsty werewolves- together at last!  Wolf Team is an online first-person shooter that allows players to swap between human and werewolf forms at any time during battles.  The game features several FPS gameplay mode mainstays, such as Conquest, Destruction, and Deathmatch, but the added spice of playing as a werewolf soldier mixes up the usual shooter formula.

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Fables is a fantastic series that takes the fairy tales and nursery rhymes from our childhood and brings them into a modern age.  It has such an interesting concept: imagine that all of these magical characters and creatures are real, and they have been living in exile from their homelands for centuries, hidden by magic around our world.  The majority of these characters reside in New York, living in a small community run by the mayor Old King Cole and deputy mayor Snow White.  Nearly every children’s story has representation in this Fabletown, and they are policed by a single sheriff: the not-so-subtly named Bigby Wolf.  It is this gruff lycanthrope who is the main character in Telltale Games modern adventure title, The Wolf Among Us.

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Of all the games that Chip has found with werewolf protagonists, the clear winner for Laura’s new lycanthropic leisure will likely be Blood of the Werewolf.  This game features action platforming gameplay, a colorfully spooky art style, and a badass werewolf woman as the protagonist.  Pretty much the perfect formula for an evening in while waiting for the moon to rise.

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GIMMGP Spooky Games Month V: Spooktacular Video Game Music

Good evening, faithful readers!  We are moments away from the midnight hour that rings in our favorite month of the year.  Over the last four years, Laura and I have filled the scary season of October with piles of posts on horror games and their ilk.  For the fifth year of the GIMMGP Spooky Games Month, we have a particularly eerie experiment for you.

For the next 31 days, we will feature daily posts highlighting ghoulishly great game music.  Each day in October will spotlight a spooky song from a different title, along with a bit of background on the music and our experiences with the related game.  We will be covering a wide scope of video game history, sharing a variety of tunes across several console generations.

So be sure to tune in to GIMMGP every day in October for a freshly unearthed song for your spooky seasonal soundtrack!

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