Tag Archives: PC Gaming

Trucking Through Europe


As promised in the outro to the latest episode of Noob’s Book Club, I’m covering a couple of simulation games that I’ve been playing over the last few months. I think I picked them both up as a Humble Bundle deal. But, I don’t remember exactly. I just looked it up. I received Euro Truck Simulator 2 through some Humble Bundle or another. And, so, I started trucking through Europe.

Point of fact. We took Liam to Germany for his graduation present. Actually, we ended up traveling to Prague in the Czech Republic and a couple of places just over the Austrian border, too. But, we spent most of our time in Germany. I enjoyed the trip so much that I seriously considered moving to Europe in 6 years or so. Christine eloquently said, “You want to live anywhere but here.” To which I responded, “Yep.”

Top is my in game shot of Allianz. Bottom is my trip to the stadium over the summer.

Wait, that’s it?

I know what you’re thinking. Because, honestly, I thought the same thing. You just drive trucks? Through European countries. And, to answer the question, at the heart of the game, that’s it. You pick a base of operations to start. Since we went to Germany and I liked Munich, I picked there. You take different jobs to make money. Eventually, you buy a garage, a truck, then another truck, then hire some drivers, and buy another truck. I’m currently at the point where I want to buy a new garage to expand my operation some.

Because of the basic premise, I skipped this game for a long time. I played much more of the train simulation game because I thought it might take more skill. In fact, it does. So much so, sometimes, that I get frustrated why my train isn’t acting the way that I want. In the truck game, I get in, drive to a job, take the job, and off I go across the European countryside.

The Verdict

Don’t be fooled by the basic premise like I was. This game takes skill. Sometimes you even have to think a little bit. Do you rest now or try to make it to the next spot to rest? If you do that, will you get tired and find it harder to control your truck? What happens when they land a helicopter on the highway, blocking every single lane? Yes, that happens. Quite often, actually. Those are just some of the scenarios that you’ll face when you come trucking through Europe with me.

Note: I meant to release this yesterday. But, I’ve felt crummy for the last 24 hours or so. Expect delays on all content this week while I get caught up. Sorry!

Street Fighter 6 Demo Impressions


Chris and I recorded the reboot of the reboot of 2 Guys Gaming a couple of weeks ago. In anticipation of having to write about the game again, I saw that Steam had the Street Fighter 6 demo available. You may remember that I texted him after he suggested we record again, “Let’s do SF6 and MK1. Seems like the perfect soft landing spot for us.” He agreed and then we promptly recorded the episode three months later.

Hey, we’re old guys. We have lives that don’t often coordinate. The important part is that we recorded. I plan to edit and release it on Wednesday with my MK1 article, but it might end up being Friday instead because I can’t think of another proper way to end the week. Just trust that it will come at some point this week.

Play This Game for Eternity

After loading up the game, I clicked the button to start “Battle Hub”. It informs me that the game mode isn’t available but I can watch the trailer video. Sure thing. Why not. Naturally, after showing some game play via an arcade scene, a woman comes on to the screen to tell us about the mode. But, wait.

While the character sounds feminine and wears make up and booty shorts, some might argue (not me, mind you) “That’s no woman!” and angrily throw their controller at the screen. Instead, I watched the video and actually forgot about the whole thing until later while waiting for dinner with my wife. Then, I decided to look up what the community reaction to the character was. Naturally, I found a headline about some douche bag named “Johnny Chainsaw” or some other ridiculously overtly masculine username complaining about the game as woke. Just par for the course in our national conversation surrounding LGBTQIA+ people and their mere existence.

I, for one, liked the character. They brought energy and fun to the video. They may or may not be trans. But, that’s the thing. Capcom never confirms nor denies anything. Just this individual on the screen and leaves it up to you to do with them what you may. Like Gwen in Spiderverse, it makes the point that they are here and, well, you just have to deal with it. I, for one, am here for all of it and Eternity is one of the reasons I might buy the game.

“You bastard. You flipped.”

That’s a paraphrase of Chris when he responded to my text that I wanted to buy the game. I assured him, probably not at full price but after a drop or two, for sure. When we talked, we both said that neither of us wanted to buy the game because it felt like it just offered more of the same as Street Fighter 5. We both agreed that one was a dumpster fire.

Not so this time around. When he first said to me that I flipped, I texted back, “I know. But the graphics are awesome and the game play is solid. Yes, I made that determination after only about 15 minutes of actual game play. Honesly, though, what more do you need than the 2 minute video I recorded earlier. It’s Street Fighter. You fight…on the street.

The Verdict

I mean, it might be dangerous to judge a game so quickly because, as the Street Fighter 6 demo warns, “This game is still in development…followed by some other word that basically say the finished product probably won’t look or play the exact same way that it does here.” Some of that is true. Most of it, though, is just legalese to cover their butts in case someone takes better notes than I did and wants to sue them over the omission of a game mode or character. For me, though, I’m sold. Hell, if my check is big enough this week, I might just splurge and buy it then.

Minecraft Dungeons August 2023


I first found and played Minecraft Dungeons about two years ago. As often happens, I lost interest in the game because others came into (or back into) my life. Maybe I played it through the summer and then school started and neither me nor Quinn had enough time for the game. Then again, I doubt that very much. Because, I happened to see Quinn playing the game last year and he beat it…or was very close to doing so. I might have joined him for a few rounds of combat to try to get back into the game, but it wasn’t meant to be. And, so, like my previous article, I struggle with what this Minecraft Dungeons August 2023 article will look like.

Relax. Unlike that previous article, Minecraft Dungeons means less to me. Only Quinn and I ever played it. I remember thinking that Aiden might. But, he never picked it up as far as I know. So, no waxing poetic and philosphic about kids and growing up. What, then, can I write for this article?

Maybe This Article Shouldn’t Exist

I chose Minecraft for this week early in the summer. I hoped it might inspire me to play the game with the boys again. Instead, I started a new world of my own and never played Minecraft Dungeons until a couple of days ago. I saw it on the Minecraft Launcher, installed it, and loaded it. So, I played just about as much as I played before writing the first article.

Yes, definitely, this Minecraft reeks of grand plans that fall short. It happens quite often around here. If you’re a regular, you don’t even feel bad about it anymore. If not, I apologize. I tried so hard to keep the page going in spite of a busy summer and I think I just ran out of steam. I said earlier to my wife, “I shudder to think what this year looks like. I have no motivation whatsoever to do any work.” Maybe I just need some time to recouperate.

Just a few more weeks of summer? Please?

Wait Until Minecraft in May?

So, in closing, I’m going to kill the Minecraft Dungeons August 2023 article. Go back to read the first look article and I promise to have another better update sometime in the future. If not before, I try to have a Minecraft in May feature week. In the meantime, download the game and see if you can inspire me to play more by sending me your progress.

Minecraft Boy in a Minecraft World


I planned to write about Minecraft this week. Today I wanted to talk about the Java (PC) version. Then, on Wednesday, I wanted to discuss the console (or Bedrock) version. Honestly, I had no coherent plan for Friday and I wrote, “developing an RPG?” in my planner for that day. So, in anticipation of this epic update on the game, I started a new Minecraft world about a week ago.

A view from my front door.

I played through for an hour or so cumulatively. Mined. Crafted. Found some cool stuff like an amethyst cave and a desert village. The amethyst cave is a first for me. Oh, I also mined some copper during my first trip down in this world. And, ended up spawning near a type of forest I never saw before. Even so, I’m honestly at a loss of how to approach this article.

A Minecraft Update August 2023

This is usually how I approach these articles where I want to talk about new and exciting developments in games. However, with those games I usually play them daily and the update involves only a new set of cards. As I replied to all three of my kids, at different times, when they noticed I loaded up the game, “Yeah, I haven’t played it in a long time.” Traditionally, Minecraft is our vacation game. I play with Quinn, and sometimes Aiden. We have a Minecraft world or two with Liam, too, but he played Pokemon more than any other game.

In this game, I missed several updates. I kept an eye on them as they released and I even considered playing once or twice to write one of those traditional update articles. Obviously, I never followed through. One reason is because my gaming PC, the PC I’m writing this article on had a busted charging port and I thought it would take far too much effort to fix. A couple of weeks ago, that proved wrong and I replaced the port. So, I loaded up Minecraft.

The More Things Change…

…supposed to be the more they stay the same. I think people just say that to comfort themselves when things seem to be changing so rapidly. As a parent, you learn some harsh truths about, well, everything. One of those truths we are learning now is that kids are kids. Until they aren’t anymore. And that process seems to happen overnight. I don’t know if it’s because you don’t pay attention to those small changes or you only start paying attention when the rapid changes happen.

I wrote an article about going to the train show with Aiden one year. I worried that it might be the last year I got to go. He was the only one who wanted to come and I mused about how quickly childhood evaporates. It didn’t happen then. But, I think it is happening now. I mean, sure, the kids all came with me to the comic book convention in Fitchburg this weekend. And, they all had an absolute blast. It was a small one, so nobody felt too crowded (I think the reason they don’t want to go to the train show) but it still had the cool artists, cosplayers, and something for everyone.

We also found him!

But, Minecraft

Losing an annual train show is one thing. I can live with that loss. Especially if I can keep convincing them to join me at the smaller comic shows. But, like I said, Minecraft was a staple for us during vacations. We picked up old worlds. Sometimes, when bored, we created a new Minecraft world. But, we always played. This summer vacation is the 4th vacation with no Minecraft with the kids.

I think part of the problem is that I get caught up in other things and I don’t ask them to play. I’m sure if I asked Quinn or Aiden to play Minecraft, they would. At least for a couple of sessions before they got bored. I mean I saw Aiden playing Fortnight again the other night when I went up to visit him in his room. So, I need to take some responsibility here. But, parents, trust me when I say. Your kids are kids until they aren’t anymore. Cherish those moments. Take the pictures. And at the risk of sounding like a middle aged Facebook mom.

The Verdict

Who knew when I randomly picked up the game and created a Minecraft world that it would lead to such deep feelings and me fighting off tears? These episodes come at random times. About a month ago, my wife and I had a conversation because she talked about remembering when they were little. She thinks I have a limited memory, which I sometimes do, but I just said, “You just remember” and then fired off a few dozen memories, both big and little of them being kids. We have a week left of summer. Aiden wanted to disc golf. We are taking them all to the beach on Wednesday (so the console article won’t happen then), and now I need to figure out a way to

Undertale – What’s Next?


When I planned this article at the beginning of the week, I hoped that I beat the game at least through one of the endings. Alas, best laid plans and all that. Instead, I played through the first level and part of the second level on Wednesday and wrote about my thoughts then. So the obvous answer to the question Undertale – What’s Next?

Beat the game through at least one of the levels.

Not to put to fine a point on it, but that needs to happen before I can even consider any other possibilities in the game and beyond. Those who follow the page know that I am, by no sense of the word, a completist when it comes to games. I think I have exactly two 100%s on my resume. Super Mario 64 and Ratchet and Clank. That’s it. A couple of years ago, I tried to follow Quinn on his mission to get all achievements in Minecraft. I also worked to finish MK11 last year. Both ended in utter failure.

*something something* *motivational quote about rising from the fires of failure as a phoenix of success.

Okay, But After That

Okay, after I follow a walkthrough to the “Pacifist” ending, how many of the 93 possible endings do I then chase? Death and Taxes has about a dozen endings and I stopped playing after achieving the Usurper simply because it connects with my world view. So, after defeating Undertale as a Pacifist, what’s the incentive to keep playing? Honestly, at this point, nothing.

I bought so many games through Steam, Humble, and Fanatical now that I need to start playing them. One thing that “Celebrating Indie Games in July 2023” taught me is that there are a ton of great games out there and that’s not even counting the fact that Street Fighter 6 and Mortal Kombat 1 release this year. Also, I want the PS5 because we want to play the Spider-Man games on it. Long story short (I know, too late) is that I don’t see myself playing this game much after achieving the ending.

But, You Know There’s a “Sequel” Right?

I learned about Deltarune (an anagram of Undertale, clever!) from a student while teaching at Conant. They asked if I ever played Undertale. Obviously, I responded in the negative. “But,” I said, “I bought the game for my youngest to play, so maybe I’ll check it out.” Well, I can finally say I checked it out.

So, after beating Undertale, I suppose there’s always Deltarune. Doing a bit of research, I found that only 2 of the planned 7 chapters released so far. That means that not much more of a time commitment required to play through those parts of the game. Maybe I will try to play through that one without a guide.

The Verdict

The most likely path forward is that I play through the first two chapters of Deltarune. I like Undertale but not enough to try for the multiple endings right now. But, maybe after playing the game more, I might. Stay tuned to see my actual answer to Undertale – what’s next?

Undertale – A Bit Further In


As promised in my earlier article, I played more Undertale. Though I used a walkthrough, I failed to finish the game as expected (hoped). Yes, some of us oldbies still click the first link when searching for a walkthrough. We are the ones keeping IGN alive after all these years. Therefore, I can only give my impressions of Undertale – a bit further in.

I finished the first part of the game where you leave the ruins in spite of Toriel’s request. Then, I played through part of the next dungeon where you meet two of the characters that I recognize from Liam and Quinn talking about the game. Sans and Papyrus. I enjoyed the introduction to them and look forward to following their stories through the rest of the game. Speaking of stories…

The Story

Surprisingly, Undertale’s story is much deeper than I expected. I don’t know why I expected any less. Generally speaking, both Quinn and Liam follow my lead when it comes to expecting good stories out of their games. Even so, while the premise is basic (person dies and ends up somewhere — limbo, hell, Cleveland?), the characters all make it seem fresher. They all have their own personalities and motivation. It makes it easy to get lost in the fiction of the game and makes the story more enjoyable overall.

The Puzzles

I (and Liam and Quinn) also like a game with puzzles. So far, the puzzles in this game lack depth and challenge. Push a switch to lower the gates. Sometimes we hide that switch behind a pillar in a rotated or mirrored room. Memorize the pattern on the floor in this room and use it to navigate the traps in the next room. That kind of stuff. Certainly nothing on the level of Resident Evil or Zelda


Battles take on a different style from any other game I played. First, since they built in a “Pacifist” ending, you can go through the whole game without actually battling anything. The menu gives you a choice to “Act” which can mean anything from petting a dog to ignoring a character’s hat. Eventually, the name turnes a different color and you can “Spare” them without raising a finger.

As you see from the video, though, even if you spare them, you still need to engage in some form of combat. That combat, seen in the video as moving the heart (your soul) to avoid the attack by the dog varies with each character. It always involves dodging or avoiding something.


Overall, playing Undertale a bit further in makes me want to play the game more. I wish I played it all the way through to have more of an opinion of everything, but life happens as they say. Even so, what might be an uninspired and repetitive mess avoids all of that with just the right amount of variation and humor. Stay tuned for an update when I actually finish the game, maybe as early as next month.

Undertale Very First Impressions


I first learned about Undertale from Quinn. He found the game somehow. I think he watched one of his streamers play it in YouTube (yes, I know that’s our YouTube link, no shame here). I never played it then because it looked just like a silly point and click type adventure game. So, instead, I probably just played through Portal 2 again. More recently, I heard Liam watching a YouTube video about the game. Something stuck this time and I decided to load up the game and give it a try. And, so, I come to you today with my Undertale very first impressions.

I only played through a short amount of the game. Steam tells me that I played 5.4 hours. For the record, that’s only enough for me to finish the tutorial and explore some of the first dungeon. I’m at the second save point. I plan to play the game all the way through and update on Wednesday. Then, on Friday, I want to talk about what comes next for me and Undertale.

Undertale Very First Impressions

I do what I want.

So far, my initial thoughts after playing very little of the actual game mirror my initial thoughts when I first learned about the game. It looks like a typical point and click game with some innovative game play. Combat, for example. looks unlike anything I’ve ever seen in another game.

It starts as you’d expect. The screen changes from the map to the combat screen. A combat menu offers choices like battle, spare, and talk. Accoding to the advice from your mentor, you avoid combat and talk with the enemy until they arrive to settle the difference.

I know enough about the game to know that it offers several different endings. One of those rewards you for being a pacifist through the game. I don’t know enough about the game to know what that all entails, but I assume avoiding battle as much as possible fits the standard for pacifist.

In spite of that, I engaged in some combat to be able to intelligently discuss the unique nature of that combat. You take control of your “soul” (a heart on the screen) and use the arrow keys to move it and avoid little stars that might harm you. Again, as this is very early impressions, that’s all I know about combat.

The Verdict

Over the next few days, I promise to play the game more (hopefully to completion of one of the endings) and give a better idea of how I feel about the game. One thing I can say is that I choose to play the game more, so it intrigues me on some level. Come back in a couple of days for the update.

1 Screen Platformer From the Vault Series

Editors Note

In an effort to keep the page active while in Germany, I came up with this series of reruns from the past. And, so I present to you from the vault series 1. In this one, I talk about how thankful I am for 1 Screen Platformer, an independent game that I played obsessively for about a month last year.


For the last few weeks, I dedicated Thursday to my Dungeons and Dragons club play through of Curse of Strahd. As you can read if you follow the link, one of the reasons I am not doing so is because my group is slowly falling apart. Last week, I stopped the game early and this week I threw out two of my group from the club before we got a chance to play. Also, Spooktober is over, so time to focus on other games I enjoy. Today, I write about how I’m thankful for 1 Screen Platformer.

I wish I remembered how I became aware of the game. Being that it is on Steam, I either purchased it during a Steam sale or it came as part of a Humble Bundle. A quick search of my Humble Bundle history shows no evidence of the game, so apparently, I bought it as part of a Steam sale.

Why I am Thankful for 1 Screen Platformer

In any case, I played the game obsessively for a month or so last year. Every now and then (like earlier this week), when I load up my Windows partition I give the game another shot. I never regret the decision. The game’s title tells you all you need to know. Instead of moving from one screen to another to advance in the level, the camera follows your character as it pans left/right/up/down to capture the game play. But the catch is that the game fits on one screen. I’ll let the trailer give a better explanation than I ever can.

The Verdict

See what I mean? Tight controls, challenging levels, varied characters and achievements for each of them come together to make (possibly surprising) for hours of entertainment. Even if you get bored after a few plays, I guarantee that you’ll be back for more. What do you have to lose? The game only costs 2.99 and there’s a “prologue” level for free to give you a better idea of the game play and if it’s something you’d enjoy.

Death and Taxes: Great, Good, Decent


I write often of my exploits with Humble Bundle. Many are the games that I discovered through their generous bundles. Also, many are the programming books that I used to expand my repetoire and learn more about coding, just in case. Honestly, though, so many are the games I never played and the books I forgot I ordered. That never stopped me from learning about and ordering from another bundle page. And, so I found Death and Taxes.

You may think that because we went to Germany that I won’t update the page regularly. Especially since nothing posted since my review of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3. I set up the page to auto post first this article and then three more over the next couple of weeks to keep the page active and in your brain space, if you’re a fan. Let’s kick of celebrating indie gaming in July with this article.

The Decent

Limited Gameplay: I give them credit for putting as much into the game as they did. However, even with the added elements, it ultimately boils down simply to sitting in your office, receiving a dossier of people to live and die, and then choosing who actually lives or dies. If that sounds boring, well, that’s the whole point. THe game takes the job of grim reaper and makes it mid-level management hell.

What? re: Controls: I watched through the introduction comic (more onthat in a minute). Even though I don’t usually, I even paid attention during the introduction during the tutorial levels. Even so, it took me some trial and error to figure out how to move the elevator from level to level. Believe it or not, that’s a crucial skill in the game.

The Good

Introduction Comic: As one of the last few people who enjoy comics. I saw an article again the other day saying something along the lines of comics dying. Now, Chris and I pronounced them dead more than once. But, like the titular Marvel Zombies of lore past, they keep coming back. Well, Death and Taxes gives you the skinny on how to play the game and the back story through an engaging interactive comic.

Humor: In spite of the serious nature of deciding if people live or die, the game provides a light hearted approach to delivering that fate. More than once, I found myself laughing out loud at the dialogue or description of a person’s life.

The Great

Voice Acting: I never expected thegame to contain any voice acting. That it did and the acting was some of the best I’ve heard in a game impressed me. All characters have their own unique voice that gives the game a life that it wouldn’t otherwise have. I commend the designers for this choice and am glad they pulled it off.

Moral Dilemma: I might be taking this game too seriously, but I find myself faced with a genuine moral dilemma every time I get the dossiers and start reading their stories. Sometimes the requirements tip their hands when it comes to who dies. Other times, it leaves it up to you to wrestle with your own beliefs and what you think the game wants you to do in order to make a decision. Again, masterfully done.

The Verdict

I came into the game expecting a certain game based on reviews that I read. However, Death and Taxes exceeded those expectations, whatever they were. Having only played through the tutorial, I want to finish it first and then discover if there are alternate endings. I assure you that they exist. Can’t wait to see them.

Portal 2 Appreciation


Yesterday, we threw Liam a party for his graduation. True to his heritage from me, he never really wanted a party. However, he went along with it. In spite of the awkwardness of having so many worlds collide, I think it went well. While sitting with his friends, one of them asked, “What’s your favorite game?” Another thought about it. My answer required no though. “Portal 2.” Then, I realized for all my talk about the game, I never wrote an article. So, join me for some Portal 2 appreciation.

For his part, Liam agreed. I think his friend, taken aback by my sudden interest in the conversation said something along the lines of, “Portal is a good game.” For me, it represents so much more. Those who read (and spider – Hey Sergei!) the page on a regular basis know that one of my main reasons for playing a game is the story. So, about that story.

Portal 2 Story

On the surface, it focuses around a faceless (unless you find a mirror or can portal yourself to see it) protagonist that needs to escape the crumbling infrastructure of a long dormant mega-corporation. Sure, a bit on the nose, but you write what society knows. Initially armed only with a pair of leg prosthetics that allow you to absorb the impact of high falls and a wittier than he thinks personal assistant, you strike off into the wilds of Aperture Science. Soon, you find your only weapon, a portal gun. Eventually, an old foe returns. Your former assisstant betrays you. Through it all, you wield only a gun that creates portals. Seriously. That’s it. I mean, it makes sense with the title. But, how can that possibly be interesting over an entire game? Well, more on that part later.

Well, one way they kept me hooked was the secondary story of Cave Johnson (the head and voice of Aperture science) and his assistant Caroline. The always fantastic J. K. Simmons voices Cave to perfection. But, honestly, Caroline (voiced by Ellen McLain) steals the show. We learn there exist “similariities” between her and the aforementioned former nemesis, GladOS. Unlike many things, if you haven’t played, I won’t spoil it any further. I want you to experience the story fresh like I got to. I’m sure you will enjoy it.

Portal 2 Gameplay

You start the game by waking up from a decades (centuries?) long sleep. Something went terribly wrong in the facility and all fail safes failed to keep people safe. Wait, why are we telling the story here? Doesn’t this belong up there? I’m setting the scene. Just give me this Portal 2 appreciation moment, please. You have no weapons. Similar to any other FPS, right? Well, sure, but the difference is, ultimately, you don’t fight anything. No demons, orcs, aliens, bug people, nothing. You run through the facility, just ahead of the chaos until you find a gun.

And, still, you fight nothing. Well, why the hell am I playing this game then? For me, that’s the beauty of Portal 2. WIthout any actual combat and very little peril, through the story and experience, they build a tension that forces you to keep playing to get to the end, survive, and excape this prison, frankly. They add science fiction elements of being able to create portals with the gun and ground up moon rocks and other mumbo jumbo that allow you to do superhuman things, too.

Portal 2 Puzzles

Like the primary story, Portal 2’s gameplay exists simply to allow them to build devious puzzles for you to solve. You must use your surroundings, your brain, and clues from previous puzzles to work your way through increasingly difficult levels. Many of the puzzles are straight forward to solve. But, the solutions take time and effort to put together sometimes. Some took me a good couple of hours to work out the actual solution. Even when I go back to replay the game (twice so far), a few of them give me trouble.

The Verdict

Obviously, there’s more to my Portal 2 appreciation. The game is visually appealing. Even with the tough puzzles, it takes less than a week to beat if you play a couple of hours each night. Since the game came out over a decade ago, you can get it for 10 bucks on Steam. Heck, every time I bought it (at least three times now for different systems), I got it in a bundle. The first time, it came with Half-Life 2, Portal, and Portal 2. Usually, it’s just the two Portal games. So, honestly, for a gamer like me, the Portal universe gives me everything I want from a game. Good story, simple controls, fun puzzles, and an overall great experience.