Review: Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is a VR Experience for Anime Fans

Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is an anime-inspired VR experience that knows its audience all too well. Drawing from numerous mecha influences, it hits all the right marks and tropes that fans love. As a VR game, it wants to welcome all players regardless of how enthusiastic they are about the medium. The result is a journey that will make players come back to see the story to the many ends. 

MyDearest Inc. is a studio that has built a reputation for creating some of the most detailed anime-inspired VR experiences. Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is no exception as it has been truly developed for fans of the mecha genre. While heavy on the anime influence, it finds a balance when it comes to being a VR game. 

It should be noted that this review of Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is based on the Oculus Quest 2 version of the game.

Welcome to Augmented Tokyo

Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is set 200 years in the future after the Earth’s surfaces were decimated by the Meteora (kaiju’s from space). To cope with living underground, what is left of humanity has become connected through virtual and augmented reality technologies (thus being free from the burden of choice). Players will take on the role of Chloe, a human who has been augmented to better pilot the Makhia (a mecha used to fight the Meteroa). Everything changes after an encounter with the Meteora that killed her friend, putting her on a path of vengeance.

From a story perspective, this is a game that was clearly made for the anime community. If you watch a lot of the stuff, then you could spot all the influence and medium tropes right away. From the start, one might gets the impression that the world building was heavily inspired by Darling in Franxx. That is not bad, but you will soon see the influence other works have had over it quickly as well. It’s very obvious with what it is drawing from and it fully embraces it with love.

A Texture Rebuild

Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is a follow-up to Tokyo Chronos but the stories aren’t connected. This is great for someone who is not too familiar with the overall series (like me). Instead, it allows newcomers to enjoy the experience. I was attracted to Altdeus because of the story, visual details and soundtrack. Yes, I’m a total sucker for games with anime-style games but getting my attention and keeping it are two different concepts. 

This is a visual novel that is rich in story and world building. While one will not expect too much action, you are still given many opportunities to interact with the world. What it lacks in regards to a heavy VR experience, it makes up for with a rich narrative choice. Players have to make a series of choices that will impact the course of the story. This plethora of narrative choices allows for multiple different experiences as no two playthrough will be the same. Thus allowing the game to truly be packed with replay value.

As a VR game, it finds the right balance between being an immersive experience and welcoming new players. Gamers are tossed into a visually detailed world that they could interact with to some degree. It’s a world that will impress anyone regardless of how often they have experienced a VR game. Its limitation is also a blessing for everyone. It won’t alienate those who are new the VR while enthusiasts won’t need too much space to enjoy the experience.

Finally; it would be a disservice to not acknowledge the game’s killer soundtrack. It works to set the atmosphere for what is happening while knowing how to put players in the right mood. There will also be moments when you just want to pause the story and enjoy the music as it’s that good.

For a Fallen Friend

Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is a great narrative journey but there are moments it should have been more. Its biggest shortcoming is that piloting the Makhia could have been done better. This could have been a moment to utilize the concept of VR but instead, it’s a bland moment that has you push some buttons and position your hands until the action is done. Players have no sense of control or agency, instead, they do very little and just watch the action happen. 

I’m not exactly expecting something as detailed like Vox Machine but there could have been a middle ground between that and what was presented. While it doesn’t detract from the overall story, for mecha fans, it is sure to be a let down.

This is Chloe’s reality

Altdeus: Beyond Chronos is an experience that was made for the anime community but wanting to be welcoming to everyone, regardless of how enthusiastic they are about VR. Despite some missed opportunities, this is an experience that should be used as a measuring stick in regards to making a quality anime style VR game. 

Disclaimer: The game used for this review was provided by MyDearest Inc. through KeyMailer.

Published for Retroware
4/20/2021

John Romero is Auctioning his Copy of Doom II (Retroware)

In the spirit of Spring Cleaning, John Romero is auctioning some classic games from his personal collection. Among the games for sale is his floppy disk copy of Doom II.

Romero is auctioning five games from his personal collection on eBay, with Doom II being the most sought after. It is one of the original floppy disk copies of the shooter classic. This is a five disk set and does not include the original box but the winner of the auction can request the games be signed. He will also provide a certificate of authenticity of his prior ownership. The auction started on April 5th and will end on April 8th at 5:42AM (PST).

The other games that are being auctioned are The Arcade Machine (1982), Serpentine Broderbund (1982), Computer Baseball (both 1981 and 1982 version) along with The Wizard and the Princess (1980). These are the original floppy disk copy of the game and will come with the disk sleeves. However, Romero has warned that he can not confirm if the games work. The announcement was made in the following Tweet:

At the time of writing, there are 44 bids with the highest offering at $522.00. This is not the first time Romero has auctioned a personal copy of Doom II. He auctioned a copy back in 2017 that sold for $3,150. In 2018, he would auction another copy that sold for $3,200 as part of a charity to help two friends who lost everything during the Paradise fires. Given past trends, the disks could sell for anywhere between $3,000 to $4,500.

This is also not the first time Romero has sold gaming memorabilia from his personal collection. His personal copy of Wolfenstein 3D sold for $1,025, the iD Anthology sold for $1,130 and Daikatana sold for $243.50. Other memorabilia he has auctioned include a XL Doom T-shirt, a copy of Masters of Doom: How Two Guys Created an Empire and Transformed Pop Culture by David Kushner and his VIP pass to the Age of Empires II launch party (which took place in 1999). He has also sold games from his personal collection but had no involvement in its development.

Doom II: Hell on Earth was the follow up to the acclaimed game that popularized the shooter genre and was released for the PC in 1994. The game was later re-released on other consoles and the mobile device. Players will once again take on the role of the Doom Guy and fight the armies of hell (who are invading Earth).

John Romero is a pioneer in the gaming world having co-founded id Software in the 90’s alongside John Carmack and Tom Hall. His gaming credits include work on Wolfenstein 3DDoom and Quake just to name a few while also coining the multiplayer term “deathmatch”.

In 2015; he established Romero Games Ltd., an independent game studio located in Galway, Ireland. Their first title, Gunman Taco Truck was released in January 2017 and it was highly praised. Empire of Sin was the studios second title and it was released in December 2020 for all major consoles and the PC.

Published for Retroware
4/5/2021

FanimeCon 2021 Announces They Will Go All Digital

After months of speculation along with the ongoing pandemic and the concern for public safety, it has been announced that FanimeCon 2021 will be an all virtual event.

The FanimeCon Chair Team announced that there will be no live event in 2021 and that everything will be hosted online. Those who purchased a pass will have it rolled over to the 2022 event. Since the official hotel block had never opened, anyone who booked a room outside of the official block will have to cancel it before the hotels deadline. 

Merchants and artists who have reserved a spot will be informed about their options in the coming days. FanimeCon is also working on ways the community could help support local artists who have been financially hurt during the pandemic. 

The announcement was expected by the FanimeCon community and was welcomed given the current situation. 

Information about the virtual panels and online events will be made available in the future. It’s unclear what an all digital FanimeCon will look like since this will be the first time the event has been all virtual. The 2020 event was cancelled and there was no officially organized digital version. 

In response to the 2020 event being cancelled, members of the community organized to host a series of unofficial digital events. These events were not coordinated by any staffer but instead organized at the last minute by volunteers. Members of the community would share stories in the unofficial Facebook group or host a virtual cosplay gathering.  

Several organizers also hosted digital versions of panels that have been a staple of FanimeCon. Andre Pena hosted several digital events along with his popular “Cthulhu for President!” panel. The Foundation for the Preservation of Gen 1 Pokemon only hosted the popular “Fifth Gen Isn’t Pokemon” panel. The Cosplay Wrestling Federation also hosted a few online panels along with a digital iteration of Fanimania. BAR Con also hosted their first virtual event that weekend with performances by Odyssey Eurobeat, Pheri, and Alicia (from Kyozo).

FanimeCon was not the only convention to cancel their live event during the weekend. The Game Developers Conference announced that they too will host an all digital event in 2021. Other conventions like BayCon and Sac-Con have already cancelled any 2021 plans in favor of 2022. Events scheduled for late 2021 are monitoring the pandemic before making the call to cancel live events. 

FanimeCon is one of the largest fan organized anime conventions in North America and has taken place during the Memorial Day weekend. From the special guests to the many cosplay gatherings and the musical performances, the convention is known for hosting a variety of events during a 24 hour cycle.

Published for Retroware
2/23/2021
Note: This is my first published article for Retroware.

Review | Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown (8Bit/Digi)

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Mirre Goblins Morghūlis

Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown is the follow up to the series that I could only describe as anime’s answer to Game of Thrones. The movie continues the story of our favorite adventurers in a new story while setting up the groundwork for Season 2.

Continuing the setup of the series, the movie is a deconstruction of all the Tolkienist tropes. Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown once again follows a group of adventures who do the dirty work that others feel is beneath them. All of our favorite characters are back in another adventure that involves killing goblins.

A Goblin Slayers Work is Never Done

Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown takes place right after the events of Season 1 and follows our heroes on another quest. Sword Maiden has put a request for Goblin Slayer to rescue Noble Fencer (the daughter of a noble who wants to be an adventurer). When they arrive to her last location, they have to save the village from an attack by goblins. It becomes clear that there is a nest in the area and it has evolved.

If you’re a fan then you already know what to expect, plenty of bloody violence. This is not a simple story of saving a damsel in distress and killing goblins. The goblins are evolving and adapting the methods of civilization. This nest has a hierarchy and access to quality weapons. Thus the stakes are higher than ever.

There is more to the film than advanced goblins. Other protagonists have the chance to grow as a character. This is most notable in the relationship between Priestess and High Elf Archer. There moment of bonding also gives us a look into both of their backstory while they grow closer together. One could also not overlook the moments that add more context to the world they inhabit. Specifically the role of God of Wisdom.

To Kill a Goblin Lord

Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown biggest problem is that the first 25min is wasted on recapping the events of Season 1. I’m not saying that those didn’t watch the first season should be left out. However, the recap did not need to be a good chunk of the movie. Even numerous YouTube commentators have been able to summarize Season 1 in only a few minutes. It would have made more sense to dedicate five minutes to the recap and fill in the remaining time with other content from the source material.

Because a good 25min was wasted on a recap, it has created a domino effect. A good chunk of the source material was excluded. Also there are moments that take a hit in regards to the pacing and quality. This is most eventide during moments and battles that feel rushed. The pacing is off and the transition between is sloppy at times. While not always the case, it happens enough to have an impact overall.

Finally, I will also admit that Noble Fencer as a character was completely wasted. She had an interesting backstory and had the potential to grow. Early on she is build up to be this total badass only to be tossed aside as a mcguffin. She never gets the chance to grow as a character or leave her mark in the end.

A New Journey Awaits

Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown continues the journey of the titular hero while setting the foundation for Season 2. It continues the work of the series of taking apart all the genre tropes and Tolkienist cliches. The movie has its problems but it’s still worth watching, especially if you enjoyed Season 1.

But seriously; if you have binged watch Season 1 twice or more then just skip the first 25min.

Published for 8Bit/Digi
8/10/2020

Capcom confirmes that Resident Evil 7 will not be a reboot

Kit Harington cast as the villain of Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare

Call of Cthulhu officially announced

Only 22% of Surgeon Simulator players have saved Donald Trump

Efforts to recall Judge Aaron Persky launched following Stanford Rape Case

Outrage over the light sentence and bias promotes call to remove Persky

Following his controversial ruling against Brock Allen Turner in the Stanford Rape Case, a recall effort has been launched against Judge Aaron Persky on social media. The massive backlash and outrage is in response to the light sentence along with the reasoning that Judge Persky gave. Now there is a social media campaign seeking to remove him from the bench.

The recall effort

A social media campagin has been launched in an effort to recall Judge Persky starting with a Change.org petition that was started by Maya Stark. She encourages people to mail their complaint to the Commission on Judicial Performance in San Francisco while also providing links to story about past rape trials he has handled. A second petition has also been launched by Maria Ruiz, which also has gained significant traction. As of June 6th, her petition has received 84,125 signatures while Starks’ petition has received 22,672 signatures.

On Twitter, anything related to Judge Persky along with Turner and the Stanford Rape Case has been trending.

Judge Persky’s decision has also been heavily criticized by the media, with the most notable being the Editorial Board of The Mercury News. In an editorial, they described the light sentence as, “A setback for the movement to take campus rape seriously.”

The Stanford Rape Case

Brock Allen Turner is a former student athlete at Leland Stanford Jr. University who was arrested for attempting to rape a fellow student behind a dumpster while she was passed out. He was convicted of three counts of sexual assault and was sentenced to six months in jail.

Judge Persky delivered the light sentence because he was concerned about the prison would have on his future. However many have criticized him for having a favorable bias towards the Turner for being a student athlete at Stanford. Persky is also a Stanford alumni and was the captain of the Lacrosse team.

This is also not the first time Judge Persky has come under fire for his handling of a rape case involving student athletes. He was also accused of suppressing evidence and violating rape shield laws during a 2007 civil trial in the alleged gang rape of a 17-year-old by a group of De Anza College athletes.

Written for Blasting News
6/06/2016
Original Article: Efforts to recall Judge Aaron Persky launched following Stanford Rape Case

Review | Doom

Once upon a time, the original Doom was seen as the gold standard for shooters as it defined the genre back in 90’s. However titles like Half-Life, Unreal Tournament and 007 GoldenEye had redefined the genre by the end of the decade.

Enter the early 2000’s; Doom 3 attempted to bring new life to the series but its fast paced action (by early 90’s standards) was replaced by a horror survival tone. Doom 3 was a success in its own right for being one of the earliest first person horror survival titles but it lacked the feeling of a Doom game.

As the decades passed, gaming would continue to evolve as titles become more ambitious in their setup or story telling. Which makes Doom the perfect title for those who want a simple old school shooter.

Doom takes everything players loved about the original game while giving it a few new gameplay mechanics and updating the graphics. The result is John Carmack and the team at id Software have shown the industry that this is how you make a f***ing shooter.

The story remains practically unchanged but this is a quick summery for those unaware of the original game.

Players take on the role of the Doom Marine, who wakes up to discover that the Union Aerospace Corporation (UAC) research facility on Mars has been taken over by demons from Hell. Doom Marine must battle the army of the dead in an attempt to close the portal and escape Mars.

Unlike Doom 3, this remake returns to the series roots as a simple fast paced shooter that gamers remebered.

The gameplay is simple, shoot every demon that is encountered while solving puzzles to progress. The game features the standard arsenal of a pistol, shotgun, assault rifle, Gatling gun along with the iconic chainsaw and the BFG 9000 (Big F***ing Gun).

A new mechanic introduced allows players to upgrade their weapons and power armor based on the players combat style. Gamers will also have to complete side quests and mini-games to unlock new upgrades.

Doom also feature multiplayer component which surprisingly works well with the overall experience. Another unique features is creating your own levels and having other players try it out, similar to the ‘Contracts’ feature in Hitman: Absolution.

Some of these features may take away from the old school experience that some were hoping for, but it adds a sense of uniqueness to the overall experience. At it’s heart, this is a classic shooter but it has also adapted for a new era while also appealing to a new audience.

However it’s never a real Doom game unless there is lots of gratuitous violence and this installment makes Grand Theft Auto V look like Minecraft by comparison. Those who are squeamish and sensitive to violence should probably skip this title.

Doom is the ideal game for those who want a simple shooter but have grown board with Call of Duty and the knock-offs it has inspired. At its core, this is a simple shooter that will take old school gamers back to the 90’s while showing a new generation what a shooter is suppose to feel like.

Final Score: 10/10

Written for 8Bit/Digi
5/18/2016
Original Article: Review | Doom