Mario Kart in Virtual Reality

Double Jump Kris MiiMario Kart is such a classic franchise, spanning from the Super Nintendo Entertainment all the way to the Switch port. The rosters have evolved from simply choosing between eight characters to deciding the driver, the kart, the wheels, the glider. Now there seems to be another way to play the game…

There is a virtual reality Mario Kart arcade game. My stomach is already doing barrel-rolls at the very idea of it, but despite any fears of nausea, a VR Mario Kart sounds like so much fun!

Presently, this game is only available in an arcade in Japan, but who knows if it’ll become available internationally at some point in the future. Having Nintendo dabble in virtual reality games just makes me excited to think of a Legend of Zelda or Pokemon VR game!

Also, that hammer item just looks like fun! Why don’t we have that in the latest version of Mario Kart?

What do you think of playing Mario Kart in Virtual Reality? What other franchises should go the VR route?

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Video Game Novels

Double Jump Kris MiiAnd it’s another week… How’s everyone doing on this fine Monday?

Rachel and I pretty much want to be done with our day jobs, haha! We would love to spend our days gaming, reading, and writing. And when you can combine all your favorite hobbies into one? It’s the best!

 

Remember when you were younger and your parents wanted you to read more books rather than spend all of your free time playing video games? Video games themselves have become such a big industry, reaching wider audiences and rightfully being treated as an art form. It makes sense that authors try to reach that same audience with novels set in video game worlds.

unofficialminecraftersadventure_gameknight999_trilogyI’ve definitely picked up some novels from Barnes and Noble simply because they’re set in game worlds. Mark Cheverton has a couple of series set in Minecraft, for example. They’re mostly aimed at a younger audience with lessons about cyberbullying, but it was a fun little trip to the world of Minecraft. 9781932796803_p0_v2_s192x300

R.A. Salvatore is an author known for his science fiction writing, with his credentials including stories taking place in the Dungeons & Dragons lore, like his Legend of Drizzt. (Not only has he authored novels, he’s also written stories for video games themselves, such as Forgotten Realms: Demon Stone for the XBox, Playstation 2, and PC.)

Ernest Cline has Ready Player One and Armada, both based on gaming worlds. Julia Durango authored The Leveller, Mark Alpert has The Six, Holly Jennings wrote Arena… There are a plethora of books out there that take place in video game settings. It’s amazing to me how far the video game industry reaches other art mediums!

Have you read any of these books? Do you have any other recommendations for books that take place in video game worlds?

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VR Pitfalls

Double Jump Kris MiiHappy Monday, folks!

Talking again about virtual reality, this post is mainly about my reservations about this section of the video game market. Virtual reality is amazing, but there is definitely room for improvement…

Google has joined the smart phone race with their new Pixel phone. I think it looks pretty good, and I’m not ruling it out the next time I need to upgrade my phone, but I also realized that Google has a VR headset — called Daydream — to go with the Pixel.

It made me realize that there’s quite a few VR sets out there on the market. The Vive, the Playstation VR, Samsung Gear VR, Google’s Daydream… As a kid, virtual reality was a distant dream. Now, we suddenly have all these options, all these companies vying for a piece of the action.

Virtual Reality headsets are, more or less, special goggles that go right in front of your eyes. As a kid, Mom and Dad constantly told me not to sit so close to the television lest my eyes get ruined (and now I wear glasses for distance — coincidence?). The VR headsets just toss that piece of advice out the window.

With that said, do these VR headsets have a time limit? Being immersed in a video game such as that for so long isn’t healthy at all. If the headsets have, say, an hour time limit, that may be good. Perhaps that’s why the Batman: Arkham VR is only about an hour long.

The wires and set up can be dangerous as well. Virtual Reality games tend not to have the player move much, avoiding the danger of tripping over wires and speakers, but the immersion aspect is ruined. Maybe one day there will be a VR set that has a treadmill-like mat, one that allows the player to walk around in place.

Overall, I would still love to try out virtual reality games, but I’m also eager to see how this particular corner of the video game market will improve over time.

 

Virtually Endless Possibilities

Double Jump Kris MiiSee what I did in the title there? I’m very punny.

Virtual reality video games are rising on the market, and imagining what beloved franchises can do with the technology is amazing. What kind of games do you hope for on the virtual reality market?

 

The other day I found a video showing off Minecraft on Samsung’s Gear VR. The video itself wasn’t anything too special — it was a video showing exactly what we would see on a computer monitor or television screen, and watching it from a monitor didn’t really help — but it did get me wondering as to what kind of games I would like to play in virtual reality.

Pokemon and the Legend of Zelda were automatic additions to this “VR Wishlist” I was writing in my head. Exploring the vast worlds in those franchises would be heaven, with Pokemon having the cities and wildernesses to trudge through, finding and battling Pokemon in exciting fights. Seeing the gorgeous landscapes of Hyrule across your vision before taking sword in hand to defend it is every Zelda fan’s dream!

Other franchises I was thinking of included superhero-centric ones, such as Batman. As I learned today, Batman: Arkham VR is actually a thing. As a kid, growing up to be Batman was one of my dreams, and being a detective in gritty Gotham sounds exciting with the help of VR!

…Until, of course, we see Killer Croc come charging at us from a dark alley or something.

Not too keen on the idea of traversing through the Legend of Zelda’s Water Temple with VR either… Or encountering a giant Dragon-type Pokemon in a dark cave…

Huh. Well, I suppose the point of virtual reality is immersion, right?

Virtual Reality

Double Jump Kris MiiSo, there’s this thing called a Vive…

Developed by the company HTC and Valve, the Vive is a virtual reality video game console, allowing you to play games completely immersed. Have you gotten the chance to try out virtual reality yet?

Virtual reality is more of a reality nowadays than it ever has been before. Rachel and I were recently introduced to a nifty contraption called the Vive while we watching a couple of our favorite gaming YouTubers. On PBGGameplay, PBG and Jeff showed off the Vive with a few games, one involving zombies and the other being Job Simulator, while PBG himself did a general video on it on his main channel.

From what we could see, the Vive seemed amazing. The guys were completely immersed in the games (even stumbling and falling when they forgot the counter or wall that they were trying to hold onto wasn’t really there), and there didn’t seem to be many flaws in the controls. Although Rachel and I weren’t too sure about the zombie game, considering neither of us are thrilled with that genre, we were definitely impressed with the Vive.

Seeing the videos got Rachel and me discussing what kind of games we would love to see on virtual reality. One of our top picks was Pokemon, of course. Imagine traveling and battling with your Pokemon and, if there are multiplayer or online options, being able to journey with your friends. Open world fantasy games would also be amazing, or a game where you are your own superhero (did anyone else play City of Heroes by NCSOFT when it was around?).

What if there was a game where you were the villain…?

At $800 bucks from the developers (and a couple of more hundred dollars from Amazon!), we’re not going to be getting one anytime soon, but a Vive will be hanging out at the bottom of our wish lists for some time.

What about you? What are your thoughts on virtual reality? Any certain game worlds you’d love to be thrown in the middle of?

 

“Username: Evie” Review

krismii Happy April, everyone! Kris here with my monthly book review. Enjoy!

“Be proud of who you are, and never lose sight of the fact that you are loved.” – Joe Sugg (Username: Evie)

“Username: Evie” Review

This post may contain spoilers for the book.

 

Joe Sugg, a famed YouTuber from the UK, penned this graphic novel. It’s his debut in the world of publishing and, in my opinion, he did pretty well.

The story itself centers around a young woman, aptly named Evie, who doesn’t quite fit in at school or with her peers. Most of it seems to stem from a poor relationship with her cousin Mallory, who is the Queen Bee of the high school, a typical teenage woe that is popular in fiction. Her terminally ill father creates this virtual reality world for her to escape and recharge when she needs a break from real life. Yet, when the program gets corrupted, it is up to Evie to gain the confidence to face her fears and overcome the challenges to right the virtual reality as she finds her way back to the real world.

The story itself is enjoyable, as are the illustrations, and the frames of the comic flow rather well. The characters can be a bit cliche — the nerd, the jock, the insufferable Queen Bee stereotype — but some of the cliches can definitely be overlooked as most of the characters seem to redeem or find themselves by the end of the story.

My main issue with the graphic novel is that it wraps up too quickly and too nicely. It’s a graphic novel rather than an epic 300-page book, of course, so it was definitely going to be shorter, but I’m curious as to what the team of creators could have done had this graphic novel been stretched into a few books rather than one. The story and characters could have grown much more.

Still, for a first-time published author, Joe Sugg and his team created an enjoyable graphic novel for all of us geeks who wish for a world to escape from real life, even if just for a while so we can appreciate the real world for the wonderful place it can be.

“Username: Evie” gets a 4 out of 5 stars.

“The Eye of Minds” Review

krismii Happy Monday, everyone! Kris here with a review of a novel that takes place in a virtual reality… in more ways than one.

“Who knows the true definition of real?” – James Dashner (The Eye of Minds)

“The Eye of Minds” Review

This post may contain spoilers for the book.

 

From the Maze Runner fame, James Dashner penned the Mortality Doctrine series of which “The Eye of Minds” is the first. The story revolves around a teenager named Michael who, like the rest of the world, spends much of his time in the VirtNet. There people can live out their fantasies as they want to with no real risk to the own life.

Until, that is, the risks become real.

Enter Kaine, a deranged aspect of the VirtNet that is responsible for other gamers going so far as to kill themselves for real. Michael and his two friends, Bryson and Sarah, are recruited by agents of the VNS — VirtNet Security — to find this Kaine through dangerous codes and programs with their hacking and gaming skills. The entire book is a whirlwind of an adventure with the trio doing their best to follow a thin trail to this Kaine to help the VNS.

The idea of the plot was more interesting to me than the actual reading. Dashner’s writing seemed to be clunky, which worked some of the time due to the main character being a teenager on a crazy ride. With the dangers that surrounded them, it was understandable that Michael’s thoughts were a jumbled mess at times.

There were also parts of the book that I skimmed over for I felt as if the description of Michael’s thoughts and actions weren’t needed as much as the author felt they were. The chapters were short with even smaller sub-chapters, if you will, in them. Many seemed to rehash what we had just read and didn’t reveal anything new to us readers. I found myself wondering why this paragraph or that section was even in the book. Most sections were great for little character developments, but some weren’t enough.

The ending was definitely entertaining and did well in setting us up for the next book. It was a twist that, although hinted at throughout the second half of the novel, was not something that I expected, and it’s certainly a newer idea that I’ve come across in books with virtual realities. I just wish that we didn’t have to sludge through so much narrative to get to, what I believe, was the meat of the story. I will be buying the second book, but it’s not at the top of my list.

“The Eye of Minds” gets a 3 out of 5 stars.