Sunday, January 24, 2016

Level Up Stealth Game Tower: Assembly & Review

What: Level Up Stealth Game Tower
Where Did You Get It: GameStop
How Much: $19.99 plus tax
Assembly Time: Under 5 Minutes

Assembly & Review: Level Up's Stealth Game Tower

So, with the New Year came new projects and new objectives.  I had some work done and had to move pretty much everything gaming related (games, Skylanders, Amiibo) etc., and for better, or worse (I like to think for the better) that afforded a legitimate opportunity to retool how I store and display these games and Skylanders.

I recently posted my complete Xbox One and PlayStation 2 game library's and both are resultant from this cleaning and organizing effort.

While I prefer bookshelves for games (or interior storage offered by an entertainment center), I wouldn't be able to fit PS2, Wii, Wii U, 3DS, and XB1 games in the 3-Shelf unit I had planned to use.  That lead me to investigate other options and one intriguing one was this Stealth Game Tower from Level Up.  It clocked in at under $20 AND I could pick it up locally.  That is always a win-win.

There are a lot of reviews on this thing, but they are of the mixed variety.  One person says it is great, the next says it is a POS that won't stand upright.  So, I had to just take a chance and hope for the best, but decided to do the video so folks could SEE how it goes together, what it can hold, how it can hold different media inputs, and more importantly, how it functions both vertically and horizontally with and without a load.

As of writing this, I am happy to report that I've had this thing set up and fully stocked for about 2 weeks and have had zero issues with tipping etc.  It may not be my dream set up, but for $20 I can't complain.

I will try to get some pictures up at a later date, but for now it was $20 well spent and a great way to organize my PS2 Library, along with a few DVDs.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sony PlayStation 2 Library

As with the recent XB1 Library list, I figured it was time to archive the ol' PS2 Archive.  For many, many years the PS2 was my main console...The NES was always plugged in and the Sega Genesis was handy, but while others were on the Xbox band wagon, or moving on to the PS3, I stuck with the PS2.  Going thru the games tonight as I moved the back up, it brought back a lot of memories.

Here are a few titles of interest:
-Madden 03: I played so many custom seasons on here...I also documented draft pick traits and ratings in a notebook and developed a fail safe system to log the best picks possible.
-Midnight Club: I still remember getting this game for my was a huge step up in racing games and one of the first "street racers."  At the time, staying up until midnight was a big deal and I particularly enjoyed playing it "late" at night.
-Test Drive: Awesome game, great cover.
-Need for Speed Underground: This franchise had a really nice string of games and Underground kind of built off Midnight Club...lots of good times.
-Grand Theft Auto: Vice City: I hold this game in very high is way up there on my list of all time best  games along with Super Mario World.  I was a teenager when it came out and it was undeniably groundbreaking while pushing the limits all while recreating a sincere 80s vibe.
-Pac-Man World Rally: Honestly one of the best kart racers you will ever play...It is a shame more people aren't aware of this game.

I won't take the time to archive the games by release date, or my acquisition date since all this went down so long ago...but here is the archive:

  1. Atari Anthology
  2. MLB 07 The Show
  3. Conflict: Desert Storm
  4. Medal of Honor Frontline
  5. Starsky & Hutch
  6. The Dukes of Hazzard: Return of the General Lee
  7. True Crime Streets of LA
  8. Grand Theft Auto Vice City
  9. Grand Theft Auto III
  10. Grand Theft Auto San Andreas
  11. Test Drive
  12. Gran Turismo 4
  13. Need for Speed Underground
  14. Need for Speed Underground 2
  15. Need for Speed Most Wanted
  16. Need for Speed Carbon
  17. Need for Speed Pro Street
  18. The Simpsons Hit & Run
  19. The Simpsons Game
  20. Family Guy Video Game
  21. Madden 03
  22. Madden 08
  23. Madden 09
  24. Midnight Club 3: DUB Edition
  25. Midnight Club II
  26. Midnight Club: Street Racing
  27. Pac-Man World Rally

Monday, January 11, 2016

Xbox One Game Library

Microsoft Xbox One Game Library

This one is a bit past due...I am having to clean up and move some things around, plus I don't have very many games for the XB1, so I figured it made sense to get this going...and hopefully frequently updated as I just had to update my Wii/Wii U/3DS Librarys after a long hiatus.

  1. Minecraft Xbox One Edition (Digital Download)
  2. Skylanders SWAP Force
  3. Plants vs Zombies Garden Warfare
  4. Madden 25 (2014)
  5. Rocksmith 2014
  6. Skylanders Trap Team
  7. Madden 15
  8. NBA 2k15
  9. Forza Horizon 2
  10. Skylanders SuperChargers
  11. Madden 16

Friday, November 6, 2015

Skylanders Animated TV Series Coming 2016


Activision Blizzard Launches Activision Blizzard Studios to Create Original Film and TV Content Based on Iconic, Globally-Recognized Franchises
Initial Productions to Include SkylandersTM TV Series and Call of DutyTM Film Series
Disney Veteran Nick van Dyk Named Studio Co-President 
SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 6, 2015 - Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios, a new film and television studio devoted to creating original content based on the company's extensive library of iconic and globally-recognized intellectual properties. Activision Blizzard's owned content includes some of the most popular entertainment franchises in the world, including Call of Duty®, Skylanders®, Diablo®, Hearthstone® and StarCraft®. Former Disney executive Nick van Dyk has been tapped to co-head the division, along with a senior creative executive who will be announced soon.
Activision Blizzard Studios' first production will be "Skylanders™ Academy," an animated TV series based on the award-winning Skylanders® game. Currently in production under the supervision of showrunner Eric Rogers ("Futurama"), "Skylanders™ Academy" will feature the voices of Justin Long ("Alvin and the Chipmunks," "Ask Me Anything") as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale ("Phineas and Ferb," "High School Musical") as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks ("Breaking Bad," "Better Call Saul") as Eruptor and Norm Macdonald ("Saturday Night Live") as Glumshanks. Additional voice talent includes Harland Williams and Richard Horvitz. The award-winning, $3 billion Skylanders® franchise has sold through more than 250 million toys since pioneering the toys-to-life category in 2011(1).
Another near-term initiative for Activision Blizzard Studios will be the development of a robust cinematic universe based on the Call of Duty franchise. Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare remains the number one-selling title on next-generation consoles(2) and today marks the launch of the highly-anticipated new Call of Duty®: Black Ops III. Activision Blizzard Studios envisions a series of Call of Duty feature films as well as the possibility of television adaptations.
"Activision Blizzard is home to some of the most successful entertainment franchises in history, across any medium. With the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios, our engaged fans can now watch the games they love come to life across film and television," said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. "Activision Blizzard Studios is yet another way we're celebrating our players and fans, and we expect that our film and television productions will entertain and delight whole new audiences, as well. I'm excited that Nick and his team will be leading this important new growth opportunity for Activision Blizzard."
Kotick added, "We intend to approach film and television development with the same unwavering commitment to excellence we are known for in game development."
Nick van Dyk, formerly a long-time Walt Disney Company senior executive, will serve as Activision Blizzard Studios' Co-President, alongside a top creative executive who will be announced soon. Van Dyk will have responsibility for distribution, physical production, strategy, finance and operations and will co-manage all aspects of the studio. Before joining Activision Blizzard last year, van Dyk spent nine years at Disney where, as Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy, he helped drive Disney's focus on franchise intellectual property and played a significant role in the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Prior to that, van Dyk was part of Artisan Entertainment's senior management team.
"Activision Blizzard Studios has the unique advantage of starting with a library of world-class intellectual property that includes some of the largest franchises which have not yet been developed in film and television," said van Dyk. "Our library spans more than 30 years of global entertainment culture and, in the last 12 months alone, fans of Activision Blizzard properties have played and watched our games online for more than 13 billion hours. This gives us a huge, passionate and deeply-engaged audience that is hungry for more great content built from the universes they already know and love-and which are extremely broad in their appeal."
Van Dyk added, "Activision Blizzard Studios is not just an exciting new business for our company, it is a synergistic complement to our core business. Our movies and shows will benefit from the remarkable IP created in our games and will further increase the awareness of, engagement with and passion for our franchises."
Activision Blizzard Studios is another important step in the company's strategy of expanding the platforms through which it offers its compelling intellectual property to existing fans and new audiences around the world.
The founding of Activision Blizzard Studios follows the company's announcement on Oct. 22 of a new esports division headed by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming co-founder and president Mike Sepso. The esports division will build on the company's competitive gaming leadership by creating all-new ways to deliver the best-in-class fan experience across games, platforms and geographies, furthering the development of its world-leading esports ecosystem. Activision Blizzard's other divisions are Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment. On Nov. 2, the company announced its plans to acquire King Digital Entertainment, the creators of the Candy Crush®, Farm Heroes®, Pet Rescue® and Bubble Witch® franchises, which will make it a new global leader in mobile gaming.  
About Activision Blizzard
Activision Blizzard, Inc., a member of the S&P 500, is the world's most successful standalone interactive entertainment company. It develops and publishes games based on some of the most beloved entertainment franchises, including Call of Duty®, Destiny, Skylanders®, Guitar Hero®, World of Warcraft®, StarCraft®, Diablo®, and Hearthstone®: Heroes of Warcraft™. The company is one of the FORTUNE "100 Best Companies To Work For®" 2015. Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, it has operations throughout the world, and its games are played in 196 countries. Activision Blizzard makes games for leading interactive platforms. More information about Activision Blizzard and its products can be found on the company's website, 

Hammer Slam Bowser Upgrades & Attack Damage Numbers

Skylanders SuperChargers Research - Hammer Slam Bowser

So, my first full Upgrade Set on the Nintendo Wii U was of course, Bowser.  We took Hammer Slam Bowser down Koopa Commander and Dark Hammer Slam Bowser down the Molten Monstrosity Upgrade Path.  Since they are special, we went ahead and logged SuperCharged Attack Damage as well.

However, that is where the item of interest emerges!  Did you know that SuperCharged DARK Bowser (and DK) does slightly more damage than SuperCharged REGULAR Bowser, despite doing the same Attack Damage in non-SuperCharged form?

I will get the spreadsheet and final video up later tonight, but check the vids for reference...Interesting stuff!

Hammer Slam Bowser Base Upgrades:

Dark Hammer Slam Bowser Base Upgrades with SuperCharged Attack Damage:

Hammer Slam Bowser Koopa Commander Upgrade Path:

Dark Hammer Slam Bowser Molten Monstrosity Upgrade Path:
Video Releasing Soon

Attack Damage Spreadsheet
^Coming Soon

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Skylanders SuperChargers Launch Day

Well folks, it is finally here!  Skylanders SuperChargers officially launches today in the US!  I figured I would take this time to cover my plans for the video schedule and answer some other FAQs as of late.

Skylanders Trap Team Research

First off, I have frantically been working to complete the Skylanders Trap Team Research Series, see also Upgrades and Attack Damage, lol.  I have actually done it, minus the Minis and a few others.  You can see all of the upgrades here:

Skylanders Trap Team Research - Upgrades

Skylanders Trap Team Research - Villainography

Skylanders SuperChargers Blind Playthrough on YouTube, Coop Playthrough on Twitch

Next up, let's talk about my plans for SuperChargers!

With Trap Team, I did something no one else has done in Skylanders, at least on the YouTube front.  Instead of doing my usual blind playthrough and directly uploading the videos to YouTube, I opted to do a "Blind Stream" of the game.  I literally played thru the game blind via live streams on my Twitch Channel.  The folks who checked it out really enjoyed it, and then of course I exported the videos over to YouTube.  The end quality wasn't as good as usual due to the stream bit-rate restrictions, but it was still a lot of fun.

This year, I am going to go back to my old formula AND maintain the stream concept.

With the introduction of online gameplay (not just racing, but coop) I will do the following:

-Skylanders SuperChargers Blind Playthrough via Xbox One uploading to YouTube


-Skylanders SuperChargers Coop Playthrough via Nintendo Wii U with viewers on Twitch


-Skylanders SuperChargers Online Racing with Friends and Viewers -Stream and Upload

So, as you can see we have a diverse mix and I do indeed plan to play with some of you I have come to know over the past 4 titles in the Skylanders series!

If you haven't already done so, I encourage you to sign up on the Skylander Club can connect with other Portal Masters and find friends to race with on your platform! - Skylanders Fan Forum

Skylanders SuperChagers Purchase Plans

Starter Packs

Now, this gets really interesting.  We have more characters than ever in the Starter Packs, but we have a lot of duplicates.  Here is my tentative plan

I have pre-ordered the Dark Edition for the Wii U.

I will get the 3DS Starter Pack.

I will get the Xbox One Starter Pack.

I really want Dark Bowser, but I'm trying to think of a way to justify the price of another Starter Pack...Ironically, if I had to pick 1 DK and 1 Bowser, I would want Dark Bowser and regular DK...funny how that goes.

If there is a good sale, and stock, I might spring for the Dark Wii Edition.  I could always upload a playthrough of that game, but I honestly haven't seen anything of it...I would like to gauge my purchase on the more immersive 3DS game (you can race online while you can't on the Wii), but with scalpers AND amiibo fanatics on the prowl, this may be a hot commodity.  I remember last year with Trap Team it was difficult to get a Wii U Dark Edition at launch.  Will there be low stock of the Dark Wii Edition, or will it be shelf fodder.  Will scalpers pick it up, or will regular buyers not justify the high price for basically a single character and his vehicle?  At this point, we just don't know.

Official Route

As for Day 1, here is my route:
-TRU: Legendary Hurricane Jet-Vac and possibly Dark Wii Starter Pack
-Target: Nitro Stealth Stinger
-Best Buy: Steel Plated Smash Hit
-GameStop: Frightful Fiesta and Dark Wii U Starter Pack

Skylanders SuperChargers Collection Plans

As always, 2 of each Skylander would be great...I can take both paths and never have to reset and loose precious and time consuming progress.  However, where there are not "specials, or alt-decos" on tap, I will likely not be able to finance a 2nd figure for everyone, let alone vehicle.  This is why I am a fan of having Darks, Nitros, Legendaries, and characters like Frightful Fiesta and Easter makes buying that 2nd one much more justifiable.

So, needless to say, I hope to acquire as many as possible, but will restrain myself to my favorites and those that are practical should it become necessary.

Skylanders SuperChargers Storage

This is a serious issue...If you are a seasoned veteran, you probably have Skylanders in your gaming room, on your consoles, strung across the living room, displayed in the kitchen, and some stored away under your bed...The struggle is real!  I am a bit concerned with parking for the vehicles, lol.  My tentative plan is to go the el-cheapo route and score some more of the under $1 "shoe boxes" from Target.  These are simple Sterlite storage containers with a click-lock lid and they get the job done, while leaving max fundage for Skylanders.

Is it Really Blind?

Oh yes, rest assured it is.  While some YouTubers have played a level or two and taken part in some races, others have simply watched some of the footage from Activison or other outlets...but me, all I've done is consume the B-Roll footage the PR team sent out.  This is largely highlight reel type material.  I've not watched the infamous chapter Lou played thru in the summer, I haven't digested any leaks, and I haven't read any descriptions...I'll be going in knowing as little as possible.  The only area I have good intel is the cast of Skylanders.  I personally just enjoy this approach much, much more...If I know the entire cast, plot line, and all the twists the game simply looses some of its appeal.

I plan to put a priority on the blind, solo playthru, but after completing a few chapters I'll hit up some friends and viewers for a coop approach.

Depending on how the game is structured, I will also work upgrades and other game modes that may be present into the mix earlier.  I have yet to find a perfect balance for how to approach things, largely due to so much content being locked, or tucked away (ie you want to fully ugprade someone, but their Soul Gem is in the last chapter etc).

What Does it All Mean?

Well, if you read all of that...thanks, you are who I cater to in this crazy YouTube life.  I do things a bit different than most.  I still prefer to focus on the details and attempt to provide viewers with a more intelligent playthrough.  I have a M-F job with long hours, and other interests.  Video games are an outlet to have fun, relieve stress, and just enjoy some down time.

I have been offered various partnerships, but since I read the contracts, I have never signed off on one...If you were unaware, you can take a partnership and radically grow your channel.  I'm not sure the subscribers gained are legit, and people claim they make more money, but I'm kind of here for fun..and I don't like to Skype with people who have names I can't pronounce that use a CC email to 15 other YouTubers telling each of us how unique we are with the same cut-and-paste compliments to go over any negotiations.

The partnerships, in addition to pumping more subscribers and requisite views to your channel, offer some tangible benefits, namely cross promotion (although they always tout their expansive sound effect database and collaboration tool kit).  No one likes to talk about cross promotion, but it is real, and it sucks for those on the flip side.

Let's say you have a YouTuber you really connect with (maybe me for instance?!).  Let's say they have a playlist of Skylanders SuperChargers that has the complete game and each installment is one chapter.  You caught Ch 1 and had stuff to do, so the next night you come in and watch Chapter 2.  You think, "Oh hey... a short chapter, I'm going to check out Chapter 3 too!"  You scan over to the sidebar with the playlist and instead of seeing Chapter 3, you find a ton of videos from other channels...You think, "Hey, this is supposed to be a playlist for this series, what is the deal?"  Well, that is cross promotion at work.  A lot of times if you use Auto Play you can go straight from the channel you want to watch, to the channel that is cross promoting.  It isn't really "recommended" channels for you, it is channels that are paying to be in another channel's playlists.  Head off to a partnered mega-channel's playlist and tell me if you see any vids lurching in the top slots of their playlists...if you do, they'll only be from larger partnered channels.

Basically, to put it in laymen's terms, partnered channels cross promote to both increase their view share and decrease the view share of their competitors.  It is a vicious cycle and very frustrating to not have videos measured by their own merits.
I've come to realize, more and more the past few years, that I could actually have a much larger channel by just yelling, raging at the game, and throwing in ridiculous animations and sound effects...that is simply not my style.  I have my own delivery and feel I have a niche audience that shares my mindset.

Despite the trends others follow, I just keep doing my own thing.  They say it is always best to swim with the current, but I feel like I'm that guy on the bank looking over at the mountain in the distance...I invite you to come with me...especially since that stream leads to the mouth of the cave that the bears hibernate in...

Long story short, SuperChargers is here...I hope it is awesome...I'm not changing my style...Let's have some fun together!!