Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grand Theft Auto 5

    According to Take 2 Interactive the Grand Theft Auto franchise has sold over 125 million since its inception.We expect this new installment to boost this number substantially. If you have not seen the second trailer you should check it out. You name it and the trailer has it; fancy cars, boats, trains, and dirt bikes!Did I mention it looks like a very compelling story?

Color Blind Test

   . EnChroma, Inc recently announced a free app that tests for color blindness. This app is available for smart phones, tablets and as a download for computers. This is good news for the 10 million Americans and  284 million people worldwide who have a hard time distinguishing red and green colors but may not realize they are color blind. Not being able to see the full spectrum of colors make every day tasks more challenging ( i.e. playing video games). If you suspect you might be colorblind or just want to check out a cool app please visit

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Far Cry 3 now showing off it's multiplayer

Ubisoft's quickly approaching title, Far Cry 3, has another trailer for everyone to check out and talk about. This time around, we have the multiplayer trailer for the island adventure. December 4th is the big day and it is hard to admit, but I am more excited for this release than the Assassin's Creed 3. While the Far Cry series had been a hit with select gamers, the third definitely looks like it will be most accepted of the previous entries.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Painting with Styl(us) - Sensu Brush Review

 Though we live in a world filled with smartphones, tablets, and other thingamabobs that respond very well to our finger touches, sometimes you yearn for a tool that gives you a little more creative control over your device.  Stylus' (or is it Stylii?) are a part of a bygone era of PDA's, handheld gaming consoles and the first smart phones available, but they're definitely making a comeback lately. 

There are probably hundreds of unique stylus out there, ranging from simple ones to more complex ones that double as a real pen, or even have interchangeable tips for more precise range of control.  But really, it's just an extended version of your finger, able to manipulate a capacitive touch-screen device with ease.  We've used a few here at Mashbuttons, and we like some more than others...but today, we're talking about the new Sensu Portable Artist Brush and Stylus.

Is it a paintbrush, or is it a stylus?  Here is another device that has quasi-dual roles.  On the one hand, it's a very nice stylus, fitting comfortably in hand, and serving quite well.  But the secondary role, once you take it apart, is it extends to be about the length of a paintbrush, and it actually puts a paintbrush at the tip!  It's design truly does mimic a paintbrush that would feel at home in any artists studio.  

In fact, how can a brush made from real hair work on a capacitive touch screen device?  The answer is a copper-infused synthetic brush hairs.  That and science!  As far as the tool as a standard stylus, it performs admirably.  Strokes were registered with great accuracy in Apps we used (Paper, Adobe Ideas, and Kids Doodle).  Officially supported Apps are wide, including ArtRage, Sketchbook Pro, Procreate, Auryn Ink, and SketchTime.  I didn't use any apps that produce a different image using the brush over the stylus, but I'm also not a painter either.

Speaking of painting apps - the SensuBrush was featured in this Windows 8 video where a young girl paints and prints those paintings while showing her dad's neat, check it out.

While the video showcases some use of the paint brush, it's a shame Sensu wasn't highlighted as the Stylus maker. 

I actually like the official videos better, as they showcase a variety of apps (as talked about above) and their use.

The brush retails for $39.99 and though it's more expensive than other lesser Stylus, we found it would be worth the asking price.  It'd be a great addition to the art lover in your family this holiday season as a stocking stuffer.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Get up close and personal with the Songbird figure

If you don't know who the Songbird is, it appears to be the Big Daddy's replacement in Bioshock Infinite. In this video, Ken Levine goes into detail about the work and thought that went into the collector's edition figure. Check out the video all you fans of game figurines and collector's editions.

Zone of the Enders HD gets the MashButtons treatment

Konami has sent us a copy of their recent HD collection for the PS3, this polished classic is the Zone of the Enders series. Within the HD collection lies Zone of the Enders, Zone of the Enders: The Second Runner, and last but not least, the demo to Metal Gear Rising. ZotE is an action series that was available on the PlayStation 2 right around a decade ago and was known for it’s flying mech combat and the anime cut scenes. Frames, or mechs, are are the humanoid machine battle suits in which the player controls, inflicting unique short and long ranged attacks seamlessly in open air. Let’s see how it holds up a decade later and what I thought of the Reveangance demo.

I did not play Zone of the Enders when it was originally released, I had attempted to go back and see what I had missed but it was too late, or so I thought. The HD collection looks great, the scheme of the game is a bit dark, but the characters and cutscenes were more clear than I was expecting from this polished re-release. The action is incredibly fast and smooth and the  combat is technical, I mean you can get away with button mashing to a certain point, but it won’t get you far. The story is just about as fun as the combat, it is deep and reminds me of playing through a season of an old saturday morning cartoon I used to watch. The same can be said of my time spent with The 2nd Runner, but I preferred the combat in the second over the first, while enjoying the story more in the in the second.

Throughout gameplay there were points in which the framerate slowed down and took a bit of time for the action to get back to normal. Though irritating at times, it didn’t take much away from the gameplay or was game breaking in any way. What did take from the gameplay at times was the camera, most of the time I was fighting with it while taking taking a beating trying to locate the culprit. Lastly, and this is my complaint about Hideo Kojima’s titles in general, are the lengthy cut scenes. Any one can skip long cut scenes to get back into action, but Mr. Kojima just had to make the story interesting so it is hard to skip, so here comes my issue...finding the right amount of time to play and knowing when to stop, thirty more minutes usually turns up being an hour and a half.
I am not going to keep ignoring the elephant in the box, Metal Gear Rising, the demo is what you would expect from Platinum Games, fast, flashy, and incredibly fluid. Add that to the lead character being the badass which is Raiden and it is great. Zone of the Enders is a great way to pass the time until Reveangance’s release. Fans of the original series would definitely enjoy the restored classic and those that missed it the first time no longer have a reason not to checkout this time around, it looks better and both great games are on one disk.

MashButtons takes a crack at Mugen Souls

Mugen Souls is the latest PlayStation 3 exclusive title from NIS America, the people behind the Disgaea and Hyperdimension Neptunia . This title however takes place in space in a galaxy consisting of seven worlds and your role, you are to play an undisputed goddess hellbent to conquer them all. Some key features that should be pointed out are the large worlds you can openly explore complete with random battles, Moe kill: attack method used to transform enemies into peons or items, and character customizations that grant the ability to customize body parts, facial expressions, and job classes to a cast of characters. Now that the package is open and the tutorial is complete, lets find each world’s heroes and villains to...oh a bath house!

So I figure that since this is a new game from NIS America, I know that those listening are curious to know, yes, Mugen Souls is a fitting title for the publisher. The reason I say that is while you play a goddess bound and determined to destroy and conquer, you encounter a two girl bath house scene. Not strange at all right, well peons are then used as loofa’s and you get peeped on by your boy sky captain who bleeds from his eyes. Ah yes, this is the NIS that I have grown to know and love. Aside from the off the wall characters and story, it plays like most current JRPG’s, but the gameplay reminded me mostly of the combat found in Hyperdimension Neptunia. To add a twist to the turn based action, Moe kill is introduced as a unique way to get the best rewards based on how you can read the enemy, but with large rewards comes big repercussions if you read your opponent incorrectly.

Mugen Souls, much like any complex RPG, has a long learning curve. The complexity is steep and not something you will get the hang of after a couple hours. You have to stick with it in order to appreciate what it has to offer, and it has a lot. After many long hours and literal LOL’s I still do not fully understand the Moe Kill system, I get the principle but the execution is still just random to me. Now for the elephant in the room, is this a niche title, like much of NIS’ library? Yes, I can easily say that fans of NIS’ previous titles will definitely enjoy their time spent with Mugen Souls as it is new but feels familiar at the same time. The lead character is reminiscence to a lead character from Disgaea and the story flows similarly. As a fan of JRPG’s and the quirkiness of NIS’s games, I had a great time with Mugen Souls and would suggest it for a light hearted romp.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

When animals attack, Far Cry 3 edition

Ubisoft has just released a story trailer for the third entry to the Far Cry series. Though it may seem like the objective is to get your ass handed to you by exotic maneaters and take drugs. It looks beautiful and the gameplay looks like a lot of fun, check out the trailer and you will see there is a story as well. Far Cry 3 is scheduled for release on December 4th.

The fun behind making Injustice

Injustice: Gods Among Us is the fighter I am most looking forward to in 2013. I mean who can complain when you have a fighting game made by the genius' behind Mortal Kombat but the cast only includes iconic DC super heroes. Check out the developer's passion behind this title and new gameplay footage that we can finally play in April.

iStabilizer Dolly - A shaky review

One of the latest accessories we have been sent is the iStabilizer Dolly for smartphones.  If you're unfamiliar with what a dolly is, you are not alone.  A dolly is commonly used in shooting moving pictures (movies) to create tracking shots, or follow shots, etc but to be allow the video to be buttery smooth.  Think the scene from The Shining as the little boy is riding his big wheel around the hotel, being followed by the camera.  Here, let me get that for you:

The shot above would've been next to impossible to get handheld, without a ton of noticeable jerks in frame.  Okay - so we've established the purpose of a dolly.  Pretty cool actually when you think about it.

Enter this crazy smartphone/camera phenomenon where everyone is a Stanley Kubrick, and suddenly there's a market for small versions of steadicams and dolly's right?  Well in concept, it's cool, but what we have here leaves a little to be desired.

The iStabilizer Dolly is actually seemingly well made.  Made from a high quality metal, and with skateboard-like wheels and smooth rolling bearings, it has some potential.  The problems we kept running into were finding reasons to use it.  The platform is pretty short, so shooting people in a normal scene, your shots would be from the ground up, as it only stands about a foot off the ground.  Imagine watching a movie where everyone is 5 and 6 feet, but the camera angle is only 12 inches off the ground, wouldn't be very interesting.
Okay, so maybe we're trying to shoot miniature video.  That's pretty cool actually.  If you're one who can setup and build some sets with your GI Joes, or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, you could in theory create some cool stop-motion-like shots.  The only other use I could think of, is perhaps some product photography/videography.  Smooth video shots from all angles over products, if you're in the business of that...but I'm guessing if you are - you have a much fancier setup.

A device meant for professionals, dumbed down to a consumer market, just doesn't really work.  You could probably get creative and modify the unit to support a taller stance, but I just really have to ask "why"?

Unless you're wanting to be the next Tim Burton and start off by practicing some stop-motion movies, the iStabilizer is a pass in most consumer's books.

iStabilizer is $59.99 direct

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ragnarok Odyssey is the Vita's hunter of monsters

 It is finally here, the action RPG title that most of us Vita owners have been waiting for, the release of Ragnarok Odyssey. Odyssey is built around the world of Ragnarok Online, where a battle is taking place between the humans and the giants. Players will take on the role of a human and have over 20,000 character customization options available to create the hero of your liking and a total of six classes to chose from, all in which play very uniquely. Lastly, and this is a big one, is the online play, RO supports up to four player coop gameplay for when the quests really get  troublesome. Now that the game is installed, my hands are cramped and the battery is dead, lets see how it fares.

I will get this out of the way early, this is similar in gameplay and style to the Monster Hunter titles, by way of collecting items through missions across an original world based on Norse mythology.  There is large monsters, there is a lot of refining, so of course there is to be just as much grinding. I however preferred it to the latter due to the gameplay, Odyssey is fast, while the combat is fairly simple, you will start remembering devastating combos based on the class and you will very likely test multiple classes before even diving into the story. At least that is what I did, each of them are so unique, that curiosity got the best of me and now I focus on two classes, Sword Warrior and Hunter, depending on if I am playing single or multiplayer. On top of all that, the graphics and the load screens were very surprising, one is fast while the other is stunning.

While the graphics are stunning, you can not see monsters in the distance if your life depended on it, and it usually does. Enemies often didn’t appear until I was just about on them and if it was a group of four or more, it usually didn’t end well. The camera, was not bad, actually worked very well I thought, however, if you are locked on to an enemy, the camera was not intuitive enough to adjust its location to target my victim. Lastly the online, much like the camera controls work times. My only issue is the lag when there is a lot going on at once, like when you are playing with a full party and the enemies keep coming, you will likely see lag unless everyone has a strong connection.

Ragnarok Odyssey is a great game, from it’s fast paced action to the online, it is beautiful from start to finish, and finish is nowhere to be found. It is great to either pick up and play a mission, help others, or to farm for weapons, items, and cards if you are looking to kill time here and there or to pass the day away. While the story was lacking, the gameplay was the reason I was skipping the text to get to the action. The most fun I had was spent online, however if that isn’t an option the single player is almost equally entertaining, and quite a bit more challenging depending on your class.

Orgarhythm gets me tap, tap, tappin' on the Vita

This time around we have another review for a download only title on the Vita, a rhythm game that goes by the name of Orgarhythm from a publisher well known for importing portable titles, XSEED.   Orgarhythm is considered a Real Time Strategy, but with a twist. As you can gather from the title, rhythm will play a role in the gameplay and this role is to command your dancing troops to battle it out with the bad guys. Aside from being portable on the vita, other features consist of online multiplayer in the form of two player coop play, an original soundtrack, and musicians are encouraged to submit songs in hopes to be selected for use as DLC. Lets take a look to what exactly Orgarhythm is like to tap upon.
I am still not sure where to start with Orgarhythm. I like RTS’ and I like rhythm games, so why is this not feeling like a virtual peanut butter cup. I immediately started playing through the tutorial, then after multiple attempts at the first mission, I started to get the hang of the gameplay, and I was not good at it. While I think it had a cool style, I mean you play as a god of light, dancing across battlefields in what seems to be a dance battles. This is not the Michael Jackson Experience. Though I must say the latter’s soundtrack may be better. Orgarhythm has a mixture of club and tribal beats for you to tap your commands in to the music. Once again, I was far from good at this, at all. After multiple attempts at the early levels, there was some frustration. I don’t know what it was, I tried with headphones, loud volume, without outside distractions, it didn’t matter. I did however notice that I could time my taps with the circles that appeared at the most opportune times and this was actually the best way for me to play. The premise was indeed unique and the animations always made me grin when I would watch my god and followers bust a move.

When all is said and done, Orgarhythm just wasn’t the game for me. In my situation it was a matter of the controls that I just couldn’t not grasp. The lack of controls from the buttons is the heart beat of this dilemma, I along with many out there are all thumbs and on a small screen, its not gods you need to worry about, it is big fingers. What did have me coming back for more humiliation was absolutely everything else. The music was a good fit for the art style and animations. Get some licensed tracks in there and provide some additional controls options and I will definitely be giving Orgarhythm another chance.