A Quick Tuesday Pairing!

I started this blog based around craft beer and have been somehow trying to weasel in video games into it, too.

This article that I’ve gone back and re-written was the one that I first used for a pairing series where I match any video game with a type of beer. I saw this buried deep in my hard drive and thought I’d throw it up for all to see where I go the inspiration. I love doing it because what two things don’t go better together?

I’ve paired cheese with various wines (I don’t know anything about that), beers with different meat (I’m a good cook but I just drink my favorite beer at the moment and try not to burn the steaks) and one of my favorite questions of late which is the great debate of what kind of drinks to pair with video games!

The method to the madness.
I’m kidding. I didn’t really do this with any panache or method. I played each game for about 3 hours and in that span, I was only allowed 2 beers per game. That way, I didn’t end up too tipsy to play the game or start the typical online argument with random strangers.

I chose a popular game from the category of genre and that I still owned. That list ended up being pretty long and I like to think that my choices were solid because I’m limited to my XB One.

The standard fare.
Let’s start with the most popular genre that’s dominating platforms right now. The FPS (first person shooter for you n00bs out there). I used Battlefield 4 for this test and found it to work quite well. This is a fast-paced shooting game based on knowing the map and the best corners to camp out in and cheat ones happy little rear end off.
These rounds can go fast and get heated quickly or can last for upwards of 20 or 30 minutes playing Rush or Domination. As such, I decided the best thing to go with these games are an IPA’s or ales.

Preferably something that’s a session style and in the low ABV category as you get hooked pretty quickly and find yourself wasting hours trying not to let the constant deaths get to you. I drank a Zombie Dust first then decided that a Lagunitas Aunt Sally would perfectly sum up the bitterness of those near-constant deaths.

A disclaimer.
It’s important to note here that I forewent using Call of Duty for the sole purpose of everyone being so angry and constantly insulting my non-existent girlfriend or what they think of my mother. That’s just a buzz kill.

Endurance.
The next game I decided was best for this category was Forza 5, an Xbox One exclusive title that’s a simulation racing game. I found for this genre that a light cider worked pretty well. Something like Apple Orchard Crisp Cider or Henry and Forge Apple Cider (they’re really cheap too!) You really only have to drive fast and know when to push the brakes as to avoid slamming into a tight corner wall or other players.

Now, I decided to mix it up and go into a server that was hosting a 50 lap battle on the entirety of the Nurburgring track. The ciders barely lasted long enough for me to finish the race but somehow my car wasn’t completely destroyed. I thought that my favorite Honda Civic would get the job done, and while I finished dead last, I was proud that I powered my little beater across the finish line!

A blast from the past!

For the last genre was the ever-lovable Chrono Cross for the original PlayStation (remember those things?) This was an RPG game which set you on a placed path that you had to fight your way up via way of random enemy encounters. In the fight, you had to strategically choose your next attack move. Pick right and you won the match, choose wrong or pick the wrong elemental move, and it was back to the previous checkpoint. For this bad boy, I went with the Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout.

The taste stays delicious from start to finish which helps you stay focused on the next move and confident that you’ll push the right button from your rusty memory of a PlayStation controller (I haven’t touched a Playstation product in I don’t even know how long, don’t hate me). Given this was one of those old two-disk games that took upwards of 20 hours to beat, I didn’t make it that far in the story. But I could drink stouts the whole time and still rock out to this one!

Nostalgic.

These are just some brief thoughts on what worked best for me. I left each BF game on a positive K/D ratio and placed last in Forza which is pretty good for 3 hours of continuous racing. I ended up playing Chrono Cross for another 2 hours because I forgot how awesome it was only to be reminded by the rising sun that I just had inadvertently pulled an all-nighter and was now on the verge of falling asleep. But it was the most satisfying loss of sleep I’ve experienced in a while!

Talking Nintendo on the podcast.

I just started doing my own podcast. My guests brought up some good points about the console I thought I’d share.

The Switch’s game shortages.

I’ve talked before about the Nintendo Switch. Many a time, come to think of it. One thing that stands out is a shortage of titles to choose from.

Sure, you have the newest Zelda title. That’s fine and dandy and I’m sure there are plenty of people who are still enjoying it.

What I haven’t much of yet is where all the future games are. It’s been quiet on the announcement front and there are some people getting restless.

My first guest, Jeremy Cable, hasn’t tried it yet or laid hands on a Joy-Con controller.

“Ocarina of time was pretty good. I liked Wind Maker, that was probably my favorite. But that was also one of the last good ones to me,” he said.

Future choices?

Hopefully they’re gonna be good. Peter Hart, my other guest, said he was on the line about them, and while he’s played them, never really got hooked.

“I tried a few of them here and there, but never really got into them.”

I brought up the idea of an open-world style MMO Pokemon game. While I don’t own a Switch, I think I would make the consideration for that title.

“Almost how they set-up Pokemon GO!, but just video game it,” Jeremy added.

Peter also agreed with the idea.

“Just start with the basics, first. Add in the newer ones along the way.”

We unanimously agreed that the Gold and Silver versions of the GameBoy cartridges did it best.

Of course we talked Call of Duty.

What started as a topic about MMO’s and the game Destiny, we had to talk about the newest release in the titular Call of Duty series.

We watched the newest trailer for it and got their impressions about it.

While we all agreed that you can’t beat a good D-Day opening scene, it still has a lot to prove to us. Like in another post about the game, the backdrops can look shockingly similar.

Jeremy agreed that they’re all kind of starting to feel similar. He misses the older games and like myself, think the franchise ran their course.

Only time will tell!

Check out the podcast to see the whole rant!

NES Classic discontinued, Call of Duty gearing up for a new release.

That’s right: no more NES Classic consoles will be produced anymore. But we get a new installment in everyone’s (secretly) favorite FPS.

Bye-bye, NES Classic.

Nintendo recently discontinued their NES Classic mini-console. They’re sending out the last shipments throughout the month of April. Between the start of the month and the tail end, the console was difficult, if not impossible, to find.

nes classic 2

 

They released a statement to IGN explaining that the console was only a limited-run promotion and that supplies would eventually run out. They added a few more into the last batches of production to get a few extra out.

Heck, they were even sold out on Amazon. Best Buy released the last of their stock on April 24, both in store and on-line. I went to their website and looked for myself and sure enough, the Classic was gone.

You can make your own.

For reals. West Hart, a tech-savvy friend of mine, saw me talking about it on Facebook and told me that he just built his own. Obviously not a knock-off replica, but a system that does the same exact function.

“Get a raspberry pie 3 kit. Install retropie onto a mini sd card. Find roms of games you want to play. Install the games and hook up a USB controller and configure them and play the games.”

Raspberry-Pi-3-top-down-web
This thing.

 

He told me this was all possible for about $80 on the high end depending where you shop.

A new Call of Duty!

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Image from callofduty.com

Sledgehammer Games just released the reveal trailer for the newest game in the franchise.  It’s been confirmed that we’re going back to World War 2 with this one and fans have been rejoicing, myself included.

I’ll admit I left the franchise behind after Black Ops. I was starting to get tired of the arena style combat and later on when the new games started to take on an incredibly futuristic and Major League Gaming feel to it.

The game’s history.

Aaron Berogan of RAM TV shared some insights with me on the latest release.

“(EA Games) Battlefield 1 did a bomb job with their take on WW1. And this isn’t CoD’s first go at WW2. They did World at War, which is by far my favorite. I’m sort of excited about this one.”

He added that with their repetition for releasing a new title every year, the games can have a similar feel about them and that it can feel like a new back drop sometimes.

Everyone is hoping this new one will break that mold.

 

Craft beer is a lot like a gaming.

I’m not talking about how great they go together. That’s super true, but not the point.

The world of video games has countless styles of play. You have your MMO’s, RPG’s, horror, survival and often a combination of some of these. They all have a distinct factor to them that each draws in a type of person.

The darkness…

Some people love horror movies. I have friends who live by quoting them at least once a day in their daily lives. He also happens to be a huge fan of games that have a more immersive element to them much like a horror film. It’s no surprise that he’s a huge fan of the latest Bat Man games out right now.

He’s also found himself to be a huge fan of the Resident Evil series. He played the newest release on RE:7 and fell in love with it. He had never played it before, but he loves zombies and zombie-themed game play.

I don’t play them with him because half the time he steals all the points and calls me slow. I have to remind him that I hate Left 4 Dead and 30 frames-per-second seems archaic when I’m used to high-res graphics at 60 fps.

The parallels.

Perhaps not coincidentally, he also loves dark, heavy beers. He has a collection of bomber bottles of various different ales that are all one style or another of stouts, porters, bocks, and barelywines. He lately has developed a liking for scotch ales, so I’m waiting for the inevitable “dude, I got a new game. Survival horror!”

The draw to him is the deeper flavor of these styles. They’re more involved when you’re trying to taste what’s going on. Not to say that all the other beers out there out there don’t have any character, I just think the flavor of darker beers makes you think a little bit more.

The speed.

When you drink a light ale like an IPA or pale ale, you know what the main flavor notes are gonna be right off the bat. Everyone has tried one at their point and it very likely has driven their preferences in beers of choice.

IPA’s are a lot like the FPS of the beer world. They’re fast moving, there’s always a lot going on but not too much, and you can knock them back if that’s your preferred style of play.

Not to say that they aren’t full of great flavor, but that light and crispness of the taste and that familiarity makes you drink it more than think about it.

Kind of like Call of Duty. It’s a bit repetitive and you’re asking yourself what next. It’s always how fast are you going to get taken out and you always need to reload after firing just one bullet. It’s force of habit but fun as hell.

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Now this may seem like a list composed mostly of your standard fare shooters. It is. That’s the realm that I stay in because I’m good at it. I play RPGs and racing games and some MOBAs. But they aren’t where I shine.

I’m sure you can draw parallels with them, but I haven’t played a Forza in years and the last MOBA I was on was League of Legends which has easily been three years or more.

Developers are the breweries.

It’s no lie that you have a favorite developer. Mine so happens to be EA Sports. I’m a hopeless fanboy of their games. I live on Battlefield.

And like game developers pumping out new titles frequently, so too must craft breweries. They always have to be on top of their game coming up with the newest and dankest flavor combinations.

It’s also this speed that can sometimes hurt a brewery. They may be moving too quick to really hear what their customers are saying. It can also affect the flavor of the brews and quality as well!

Overall…

You can draw as many parallels as you’d like and point out the differences too. But you can’t tell me they aren’t shockingly similar.

Thanks for reading and as always, let me know your thoughts too!

 

The Division and Tactical Nuclear Penguin: Getting bombed!

It’s that time again! For this round of pairing, I chose Tom Clancy’s The Division and BrewDog’s Tactical Nuclear Penguin!

A heavy hitting beer at 55% ABV and a game that gets insanely frustrating when you find yourself wandering around in the Dark Zone.

The Dark Zone?

The Dark Zone, or “DZ” as it’s better known, is the area in the game where the multiplayer component comes in. You can’t enter this area until you get your character up to level 5, which also controls how good the gear you can find is.

The DZ also has enemy AI present as well. Unlike the PvE area where AI enemy difficulty level matches to your player level, enemies in the DZ normally hover around the level 20 mark.

They say that the southern most area of the DZ has enemy level matched to yours, but I didn’t get that experience.

The very first wandering group of AI enemies I encountered spotted me even faster and completely wrecked me.

That was just the AI. The other players in the Zone are even worse.

See, Division’s multiplayer doesn’t have conventional modes of online play. It’s one area and players are free to enter and leave as they please. There are no teams in the typical sense.

Don’t go it alone!

It’s smart to group up with friends or other players you’ve met and go in together. Because of that enter-at-will component, other players love to grief those entering.

You also wouldn’t drink a bottle of 55% ABV beer by yourself. You do that shit with friends. Go it alone and there will be consequences.

Have a strategy.

Now, when you’re drinking a beer that has an insanely high alcohol content, you start slow. You may have a few sips and find yourself going “okay, this is good. I’m going to take my time with this.”

You don’t need to have a steadfast plan, but it’s smart to be looking ahead.

That’s how you need to enter the Zone. You have to pick your ingress point wisely and with tact. Guns blazing on entry will only serve to make you hate the Zone.

Players in the Zone are free to engage with anyone and they’ll try to goad you into firing first. Do not do this!

It makes you the bad guy AND allows for open-season on your triffling self.

The long haul.

If you drink a forty ounce bottle of liquor, you aren’t going to down it within a short amount of time. You’re going to sip it and make it last for a few hours.

You’ll be in the Zone for a few hours, too. Trust me. I went in by myself once and it was open season on me.

Anyone in the Zone by themselves is an easy target unless they have their skills picked correctly and know how to handle an onslaught solo. I didn’t have any of these.

I still spent the next two hours in there by myself.

The lessons.

At the end of it all, I hadn’t gained any experience but I had a few new toys at my disposal. I had to take breaks between fighting though to get my treasures out.

Going back to the bottle example, You have to take breaks to make it last. Too fast and you lose focus and get sloppy. That beer was also more than $650. You’re going to enjoy every sip.

And if you’re like me, you spent way too much on the season pass and a few extra DLC pieces.

Yes, I paid actual money for 5 new coats for my Christian Slater looking player character. They look fabulous, thanks for asking.

Extracting my new-found gear let me take a few minutes to recharge and resupply to head back into the lawless Zone. If I had been with a team or group of players, that extraction break would make the next adventure ten times easier.

Those friends sharing that treat with you will also appreciate that you’re taking it slow and that everyone is getting a fair taste.

How they go together.

You’re going to be working on that bottle for a little bit while you waste time in the Zone with those friends of yours. At the bottom of the bottle while leaving the DZ, You know that the experience was great and that you got some great stuff out of the adventure.

You also used some bomb tactics with your squad and had the penguin spirit guiding you. That and the buzz of victory will be even sweeter with some Penguin buzzing your head and knowing you dodged the bullets whizzing nearby.

Come back next time when I talk about how to play the DZ going it solo! I’ll be drinking a lower ABV beer, too. I’ll be able to keep better focus 😉

-Cheers til’ next time, Nick

 

Giving Mass Effect: Andromeda a try.

I’ll start with this: I’ve never played any Mass Effect game before. Science-y space combat RPGs have never been my thing.

What is my thing? Games where I have skill trees to build and materials to scrap and reconstruct into other equally useless things.

As it turns out, Andromeda has exactly what I’m looking for.

How so?

The very first thing I noticed when I fired up my new digital copy was a slew of DLC points available. Mostly what looked like space dollars and different kinds of rocks. They wanted me to give them real money for these things.

Alright. Cool. I can deal with micro-transactions.

When I got into the first level after having just crash landed, I saw that my character’s scanner device could scan rocks and the aliens that I just vaporized. It gave me points for this and what looked like those aforementioned space bucks.

Boxes everywhere.

As I progressed through the level, I noticed that I had an inventory screen that was filling up with stuff. You could scrap it, consume it, or modify your equipment with.

You also found weapons and some other items that offered you blueprints. You could use these blueprints to craft new items to help you through your journey of taking over the galaxy.

There’s a space buggy, too.

You can travel across the galaxy and stop at different planets along the way. You can meet new traders and buy other neato items.

You have a space buggy that lets you traverse a planet’s surface too. You can drop homing beacons and set way points for fast travel.

Should you buy it?

Absolutely. If this game has even more features than what the trial version revealed, you can bet you’re going to be in for a treat.

-Cheers til’next time, Nick

(Updated 4/17/17)

 

A console reminder for those switching it up.

Well, The new Nintendo Switch is officially here. It became available to buyers on March 3 and it’s already met some opposition.

Now this isn’t unexpected. Don’t forget what the Switch is. It’s a portable console of sorts and as such we’re seeing some hardware issues.

People have been reporting blue and orange screens when turning on their devices and others having issues with the game cartridge not playing when it’s inserted.

brokenswitch
Photo by supportdevil

Not all gloom.

On the flip side of all these issues is that some people have been having success with the classic “turn it off and back on.”

And with it being a newly released console that can still play on the internet, you know Nintendo will be releasing updates.

It’s also interesting to note that you see these issues with more prevalence when the Switch isn’t in its dock. When the Switch is off the dock, the unit is running at reduced processing power and that’s probably one of the factors affecting that boot performance.

Others have done it, too.

We all remember legacy consoles that are the 360 and PS3 and what it was like when they released. The infamous “Red Ring of Death” or the failure to boot message.

People also figured out the hard way that you couldn’t stand the 360 up vertically and some even made the mistake of doing it with the first wave of the new XB One’s and messed theirs up pretty bad.

Nintendo had its fair share when they released the Wii-U. I still think it’s a goofy thing and have never really been a huge Nintendo fan myself. I’m sure there were issues with the Game Boy when it was released and there’s a million different iterations of that thing.

But after all those things got figured out, we saw software fixes and the newer XB One’s can be stood up vertically to the players delight. Heck, I have mine on the stand. And it works better in my office set-up as a space saver!

Your standard grief.

It’s always expected that when a developer releases a new game or the Big 3 release a console, there’s going to be a few issues. It’s standard protocol for something that is selling millions of units on launch day.

Don’t let the bad reviews scare you or the feedback dissuade you from buying one, either. I personally don’t plan to purchase one, but that’s because the Switch doesn’t have what I look for in a console and the games don’t appeal to me.

I know it’s blasphemy to say I’m not a huge Zelda fan or that Super Mario Brothers was nigh-impossible for me as a young gamer.

Point is, ignore the people calling for Nintendo’s collective heads over the issue. They’re angry trolls.

Give it some time.

Even with my view on the Switch, I’m still excited to give it a try whenever I get the chance. It’s also a big step for Nintendo given that it’s been forever since the first Wii rolled off the line.

Wait a bit before you buy one is my opinion. It’ll give Nintendo time to work out the bugs and you know you’ll be seeing the new edition of the Switch come the holidays.

-Cheers, Nick

(Updated 4/4/17)