While I’m not exactly a tabletop gaming aficionado, I admire the amount of passion and imagination fans of the genre typically have. WARTILE captured my interest because, though it may currently have mixed reviews on Steam thanks to an update that introduced a few game-breaking bugs, the product is clearly being developed by huge fans of non-virtual RPGs. Languishing on Steam’s Early Access since March of 2017, Playwood Project, the game’s developer, may eventually be delivering the ideal experience for dungeon masters short on friends to nerd-out with.
Does anyone remember Heroscape? It was a tile-based tabletop strategy game which came out in 2004, and it’s been talked about so little that I honestly think I may be the only person ever to play it.
That’s kind of a pity, because it was a ton of fun—well, at least I thought so when I was twelve years old. The game came with a bunch of plastic hexagonal tiles with which you could construct the game’s terrain, which made it insanely replayable. Though you could configure the tiles whichever way pleased you, Heroscape’s instruction manual offered a series of suggested landscapes and battle scenarios if you were creatively bankrupt. From what I can remember from the advertisements, the focal point of the game was it’s figurines. They were a clash of every geeky fiction trope in the book—you had orks fighting U.S. marines, demons fighting aliens, and dragons fighting xenomorph knockoffs. While the combat basically boiled down to rolling some dice, it was still awesome.
I’m bringing this up because WARTILE, a 2017 Steam early-access release, is almost identical to Heroscape. I knew from the first few screenshots on the game’s store page that WARTILE‘s developers were looking to fill the tabletop RPG-sized hole in my heart. Yet, despite the obvious homage to games outside of the virtual world, WARTILE only really managed to remind me that what’s fun when you’re twelve isn’t nearly as fun when you’re twenty-two.
Though I typically like to offer praise before criticism, WARTILE , to me, has one obvious flaw that negatively impacts just about all facets of the experience: it isn’t turn based. The game seems built from the ground up to be a turn-based RPG, and it just isn’t. Instead, you can slide your characters around the board nearly at will, which mutates the game into some sort of really lame RTS in which you babysit three or four units until they reach their goal. While the title does introduce some complexity in the form of weapon, armor, and skill upgrades, I just can’t quit thinking that the game would be hugely improved if it embraced a more traditional RPG system.
What’s more, the enemy encounters—an integral part of nearly any game of this sort, just aren’t fun. Essentially, you sidle your figurines up to an enemy, and they’ll automatically start fighting. The deciding factor in the fight tends to be a combination of who has more health, better equipment, and the higher ground. All in all, combat feels so hands-off and thoughtless that it may as well not exist at all.
While I wouldn’t exactly call it unique, the game does integrate an interesting card-based mechanic. Anyone who has played a game like Hand of Fate or it’s sequel will understand what I’m referring to. At the beginning of each mission, you’ll get to pick a few cards from your deck, which will be accompanied by some mission-specific cards. These cards typically imbue the player with unique powers: one card will heal a character, while another will poison a select grouping of tiles, and another will activate a figurine’s special move. It does add something to the game, but, in terms of game mechanics, it wouldn’t quite make the game’s back-of-the-box features list.
In terms of presentation, the game looks quite nice, and, aside from a few instances of boxes of white text overlaying more boxes of white text, the visuals are quite appealing. In that sense, WARTILE seems to be geared toward the kind of people who enjoy painting their Dungeons & Dragons figurines; the kind of people who might see the hidden beauty of a hexagonal game board. Plus, I was impressed with the amount of animation present in this release. I thought two plastic-looking game pieces bumping into each other would suffice, but the game actually offers up animation charismatic enough to add to the game’s charm.
All up, WARTILE is a difficult game to recommend. Though it really strives to captivate the tabletop crowd, they’ll more than likely see it as an emulation of the physical medium sans all of the depth and complexity. Those who have a very casual interest in tabletop RPGs or who are looking for a strategy game that can be enjoyed in short bursts may get their money’s worth, but WARTILE , at the moment, doesn’t appear to be living up to its potential. That said, the game is still in early access, and the developers update it regularly, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the game eventually shapes up to be something of a hidden gem on Steam.
WARTILE is clearly targeting a niche audience. While the developers are definitely trying to cultivate a worthwhile experience, fans of tabletop role-playing games will probably want to satiate their gaming needs on something a bit more ironed-out.
Video games have long been criticized for their frequent portrayal of graphic content. Though conservative mothers the world over may now spend their days shaking their fists at Kratos and Nathan Drake, gaming first caught the attention of the easily repulsed in 1976 with the release of Death Race. While ridiculously tame by today’s standards, the crudely rendered atrocities committed in this early arcade title managed to show the public that video games were more than playthings intended solely for children.
In an effort to curtail the consumption of controversial media by America’s youth, the Entertainment Software Rating Board was conceived. Though it really only succeeded in making adult-oriented games more popular, this rating system helped to ensure that experiences intended for children were actually appropriate for their audience.
That said, things managed to slip through the cracks. Player instigated or otherwise, there are some really messed up things you can do in kids games, and it can be slightly unsettling to think of the hidden horrors lurking within some child-friendly media. As the piano from Super Mario 64 taught many 90’s kids, the innocent can quickly turn to the perverse.
While a very small number of games can claim to be truly clean, it can be surprising to see which beloved titles are harboring appalling secrets. From constructing your own prison camp in a beloved Nintendo title to purposely afflicting your pets with diseases, it’s safe to say that some E-rated games should best be left out of the hands of young kids.
Make Your Animal Crossing Friends Serve Hard Time
Players of Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp will likely sympathize with my need to lock up the shallow, needy inhabitants of my campsite. Providing your campers with an endless supply of oranges and beetles can be beyond tiring, and it would be so much easier to simply stick them in a little pen where they can no longer complain about my lack of hospitality. Fortunately, thanks to a few craftable fences and stools, that very scenario is possible. While players can’t actually force their campers to do anything, if a player leaves and returns to their campsite often enough, eventually, all of the critters in their campsite will be seated in their own little cell, as it should be. Some may call this a bit tyrannical, but it may be a necessary precaution. I try to be nice to my guests, but if Jay asks me for another yellow perch, I’m probably going to go crazy.
Gamble Your Savings Away With Your Favorite Mario Characters
Mario may be one of the most innocent, well-meaning protagonists of any video game, ever. His only goals in life seem to be keeping the princess safe and ensuring the prosperity of the Mushroom Kingdom. So, it should come as no surprise that backlash and controversy ensues whenever the portly plumer is seen in any kind of adult context. During the release of Nintendo’s critically acclaimed Super Mario Odyssey, fans were stunned to find out that the Italian icon had nipples, but didn’t have a belly-button.
What may be worse, however, are the casino mingame’s available in several Mario titles, the most prominent of which being those accessible in Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros DS title. Players can literally gamble away their in-game savings in simplified versions of popular card games like blackjack and poker. The most traumatic element would be Luigi’s stoic, uncaring face which appears to be mocking the player as they descent into debt. Luigi does not care about your financial misfortunes, nor will he ever.
A Waking Nightmare
Tim Schafer is famous for his suite of wacky, bizarre video game experiences that often blur the line between cute and creepy. While his game’s aren’t necessarily for everyone, his 2005 classic Psychonauts is often heralded as one of the finest products of the sixth console generation. At a glance, the game is a comedic romp through the literal minds of some of the title’s zaney main characters. Yet, beneath the cartoony exterior, Schafer’s masterwork offers a sinister, twisted set of secrets for dedicated players to reveal.
The most gruesome of these mysteries can be found in Milla’s Dance Party. This section of the game seems upbeat, but a careful look through some of Milla’s mental baggage reveals that she was once the curator of an orphanage which was set on fire. Unable to save some of the children from the flames, the anguished screams of those departed continue to burden her. Grim stuff, indeed.
Cause A Global Health Crisis In Pokemon
In terms of cheery, feel-good games, the Pokemon franchise is right up there with Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Nintendogs. But, of course, even this beloved series has its fair share of weird stuff. Everyone knows about the Lavender Town conspiracy, and, while much more myth than fact, the whole thing puts something of a sour note on an otherwise adorable series of games.
Beyond that, Pokemon fans have to contend with the awful moral implications of purposely infecting their beloved companions with a highly contagious virus in Pokemon Sun and Moon. Yes, the Pokerus may grant double EV in battle, but the player is forcefully afflicting their creatures with a virus in the pursuit of fame and fortune. Only those blinded by the need to become the very best would fail to stop and consider the implications. In Pokemon, you either die with you your integrity, or live long enough to become the most brutal trainer ever.
Princess Toadstool’s WHAT!?
Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars was something of a trendsetter: a major departure from other games ado bearing the Super Mario tag, this SNES classic was the impetus for such beloved Nintendo titles as Paper Mario and Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga. It also helped to introduce a younger audience to the RPG genre, as most games under that umbrella at the time typically weren’t as blatantly child-friendly or easy to understand.
However, the youth-centric aspect of the game didn’t stop the game’s developers from sneaking in a couple of jokes tailored for an older audience. The most notorious of these gags may be found when searching through Princess Toadstool’s room. If the player inspects an obscure corner of the room, he or she will come across the “Toadstool’s ???” item. While we can only speculate as to what this item may actually be, Toadstool’s grandmother later bribes Mario for his silence on the matter. My guess: a copy of Super Mario RPG 2.
I’m Changing In Here!
One would think that Mega Man is too busy foiling Doctor Wiley’s crazy schemes to focus on anything else. Yet, the Blue Bomber appears to have something of an appetite for the opposite gender. While supposedly child friendly, Capcom’s platforming icon certainly has a knack for catching his friends at an inopportune time.
In Mega Man Legends, if the player can contend with the slightly wonky control scheme, he or she can sneak into Roll’s room and catch her apparently in the buff. Of course, we don’t actually get to take a peek ourselves, but, by the look we’re shown on ol’ Rock Man’s face, he’s getting quite the view.
A similar circumstance occurs in the game’s sequel, and the player can later find in Roll’s diary that she believes Mega Man to be walking in on her on purpose. While we can never really know Mega Man’s intentions, they probably aren’t rated E for everyone.
Living Up To The Name
Before the introduction of gaming icons like Crash Bandicoot, Jak and Daxter, and Nathan Drake, Naughty Dog tried to stand out in less wholesome ways. Their little known Sega Genesis title Rings of Power, the follow-up to their first ever effort Keef the Thief, probably would have caught the ire of parents everywhere had this little known secret been widely known earlier on.
While the intro screen usually greets the player with Naughty Dog’s terrifyingly hideous early 90’s logo, plugging the controller into the second port, inputting a secret code, and then resetting the console will cause the dog to be replaced with a woman wearing naught but her birthday suit. The only visible form the waste up, and for a very short amount of time, this certainly wasn’t something acceptable for the Sega-loving kiddies out there. Perhaps this wonky isometric RPG would have been given more attention had the public been made aware of this perverse surprise.
Hey, Put Some Clothes On!
The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time is perhaps one of the greatest achievements in human history. Ancient Egyptians built the pyramids, Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, and a Japanese toy company conjured up an epic saga that will be cherished by generations to come. That’s not to say that the game doesn’t have at least a few shortcomings: the water temple is cumbersome and annoying, the menu layout is slow and convoluted, and the great fairies really need to put some clothes on.
This really hits home to me, because, when my dad plaid through the game back in the day, I was told to avert my eyes whenever he entered one of the Great Fairies fountains. While the fairies themselves may endow Link with some crucial abilities, their garb leaves something to be desired. That wasn’t very family-friendly of you, Nintendo. Not very family-friendly of you at all.
Michael Jackson To The Rescue!
The late 1980’s were a more innocent time. Back then, Bandai Namco’s Splatterhouse was about as visceral as it got, and, as mentioned in the introduction, anti-gaming crusaders often had to dig deep to find anything objectionable.
While it may have come across as innocent at the time, Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker seems much more sinister by today’s standards. Though famous for his contributions to the world of music, Michael Jackson made a few controversial moves throughout his career, moves that go beyond the questionable act of dangling a baby out of a window.
The goal of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalker is to rescue little kids. Yes, little kids. All while Jackson thrusts and grabs at his pelvis as he moonwalks across the game’s levels. I honestly can’t think of anyone less qualified for a child rescuing mission than The King of Pop. We should all be thankful that Jackson’s life never took the form of another video game adaptation.
Mario And PETA Would Not Get Along
Though some of us dream of getting a chance to meet our favorite fictional heroes, based on some of their actions, we should probably be glad they aren’t actually real. Though the Mushroom Kingdom’s most reliable guardian may seem like a relatively easy-going kind of guy, he’s secretly the most nefarious individual to ever walk the Earth… and a bunch of other planets.
While he usually just takes his anger out on Bowser’s minions, Mario showcases his hatred for the rest of the animal kingdom in the Gamecube exclusive Super Mario Sunshine. Though probably one of the most idyllic locations to which Mario has ever traveled, rather than simply spending some time soaking up the sun, Mario spends his days brutalizing the local sea life. His most egregious offense would be ripping the tentacles off of a giant squid. The poor creature’s freshly-severed appendages flailing about really adds to the drama of the situation, and it only goes to show that Mario should have stayed behind bars in the beginning of the game.
Wario Is In Desperate Need Of An Intervention
Of all of the crazy characters calling the Mushroom Kingdom home, Wario is one of the most likely to be up to no good. Not only is he something of an evil clone of everyone’s favorite mustachioed marauder, but his video game debut saw him pitting against Mario as the game’s final boss.
Yet, this yellow-and-purple clad menace doesn’t have a history of wildly inappropriate behavior; in North America, at least. In Japan, Wario has something of a sordid history. And, while he did ask players to do all sorts of ridiculous things in the Warioware series, things got really weird on the Game Boy Color’s Warioland II. Instead of picking up series staples like mushrooms and fire flowers, Wario often needs to be set aflame or crushed flat in order to progress. Most egregious, however, is that, outside of North America, penguin enemies would launch adult beverages at the squat little protagonist, causing him to stumble around uncontrollably.
Turn Your Adorable Little Chao Into A Monster
The Sonic games have often suffered from the addition of a third dimension. Rolling around at the speed of sounds might be elegant in 2D, but in full 3D, Sonic and pals become somewhat unwieldy and awkward to control. Yet, one of the best things to come out of Sonic’s polygonal era would probably be the Chaos present in the Sonic Adventure series of games.
If you were diligent enough, you could raise these adorable little critters to become powerful, virtuous beings. However, for the more malicious, you could use the game’s dark characters to help the chao grow into little devils. They could be placed in their own dark gardon, and some would even turn black and grow horns. The game never really chastises you for transforming these creatures into little terrors, but series fans should at least feel some remorse for leading their chaos down a path of evil. Evil, sure, but they were still pretty darn adorable.
Don’t Deal With The Devil
Fans of old school animation and tough-as-nails platformers were rewarded in 2017 when, after a long and confusing development cycle, Cuphead finally hit the shelves. The painstakingly hand-drawn art style is faithfully evocative of the classic animation styles of the 1920’s and 30’s. As such, you could be forgiven for thinking that the title was intended for younger audiences. For more than a few reasons, however, that isn’t really the case.
While that may be true to an extent, if young players aren’t deterred by the game’s gruesome difficulty, they’ll likely be disturbed by some of the elements of the game’s plot. The game begins with a duo of sentient kitchenware gambling away their souls to the devil, whom they eventually must decide to either fight or join during the game’s climax. Not exactly over-the -top, but little kids might have to sleep with the light on after the game’s final showdown.
Fans of the sixth-generation video game adaptation of the second film in Sam Raimi’s Spider Man trilogy will likely remember a lackluster side quest involving a little kid holding a balloon. Now, while many players would have liked to see that particular NPC removed from the game, the developers of2005’s Ultimate Spider Man may have taken things a bit too far.
The game focuses on Venom, a villain who often serves as the ying to Spidey’s yang. The dude is pretty crazy, that’s for sure, but things get a bit out of control when the game introduces its health regeneration mechanic. In order to heal up, the player is supposed to eat unsuspecting bystanders. That alone is a bit extreme for a kid’s game, but the real kicker is that the first of Venom’s victims is a little kid holding a balloon. A grim callback to a not-so-beloved Spiderman moment.
Gotta Go Fast!
Unlike some of the modern titles in the Sonic franchise, the first couple of games featuring the blue hedgehog are heralded as sixteen-bit classics. Though Sega’s “blast-processing” thing was little more than a marketing gimmick, there’s no doubt that Sonic at least managed to convey a sense of speed that his red and green counterparts simply couldn’t.
While a major aspect of the game, it wasn’t the only interesting mechanic. Fans will undoubtedly remember the first game’s notorious Labyrinth Zone. This section de-emphasized speed somewhat in favor of lengthy portions of underwater platforming. The real kicker, however, was the constant threat of drowning. With a devilishly quick countdown and and a torturously anxiety-inducing soundtrack, avoiding a watery grave in Sonic The Hedgehog was nothing short of mentally scarring, and it likely put many kids in the early 90’s off of swimming lessons. Bottom line, Labyrinth Zone is definitely not for the faint of heart.
I Just Wanted To Use The Bathroom
There is so much wrong with The Legend of Zelda, Majora’s Mask, that it could probably fill this list on its own. While the ludicrously creepy, omnipresent moon with a face likely takes the cake, there are lot of subtle elements in the game that may disturb the player.
Located in the Stock Pot Inn in Eastern Clock Town, there appears to be an unfortunate fellow stuck in the toilet beneath the stairs. If you talk to him, he’ll ask for a piece of paper. A bizarre request for a being apparently trapped in a toilet. If you grant the hand’s request, it will reward your kindness with a heart piece. A nifty trinket to be sure, but it doesn’t quite help assuage the terror of encountering a giant hand reaching out of the potty. Younger players doubtlessly looked before they sat down in the bathroom after dealing with that.
A Date With Don Corneo
Final Fantasy VII is a massive game. So massive, in fact, that I simply didn’t have the attention span for it back in the PS1 era. Partially because i was very new to RPGs at the time, and partially because it was beyond bizarre at times. I am not contesting the idea that its a great game, as I have come to appreciate it much more as time has gone on. It was just quite the dusey back in the day.
One insanely awkward moment, however, really put me off when I was a kid. In order to gain access to Don Corneo’s mansion, Cloud, the game’s protagonist, is made to dress up as a girl and win his favor. The player must collect items like a blond wig, women’s perfume, and a tiara, dress up as a woman, and win a beauty pageant of sorts. Don’s behavior toward Cloud after that is nothing short of creepy, and it was an awkward moment to sit through, for sure.
The World’s Most Terrifying Shark
Banjo Kazooie is a great game for kids. Bright, cartoony, and simple to understand mechanics make for a blissfully elegant playing experience for young and old alike. However, the game does offer a few questionable moments, the most apparent of which can be found in Clanker’s Cavern.
In this section of the game, players will come across Clanker, a hybrid shark/robot/garbage disposal which serves as the level’s focal point. Not only is this monstrosity physically disturbing with a rusted, gorey biomechanical exterior, but it also manages to cause an ethical conundrum, as the game’s antagonist is essentially forcing it to eat garbage.
Beyond that, the player actually has to venture inside of this poor beast. Perhaps those with stronger stomach than I marched through this section without any issues. Banjo Kazooie is a cute game, to be sure, but it would take a special kind of person to appreciate the beauty of this gross robot shark thing.
As Close As It Gets To A Video Game Adaptation of Alfred Hitchcock’s Birds
This is something of an obvious inclusion, but the cucoos in the the Legend of Zelda series are terrifying, bloodthirsty monsters. Sure, they look cute, and most Ocarina of Time players will remember rounding them all up in Kakariko Village to get an empty bottle (which is much more useful than it sounds). Mistreat them, however, and you’ll pay the price.
In just about every Zelda title in which they appear, attacking one of these creatures too many times in a row will result in a horde of its relatives coming for revenge. Though they are relatively easy to avoid and can be escaped without too much of a hassle, it’s usually best to just ignore these things and allow the villager to continue their lives without questioning their hero’s moral compass. What’s more, there’s almost never a good reason to do this, so the ability to attack these poor fowl seems like an odd inclusion in this child-centric title.
Return Of The Toilet Ghost
Though I’ve already mentioned it, this mysterious, bathroom-inhabiting spectre appears in multiple entrie in the Legend of Zelda series. In the Wii’s exclusive Zelda title The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the player must once again look before they sit, as, in a restroom in the floating in-game town of Skyloft, a disembodied hand can be found in search of paper.
The quest surrounding this odd occurance quickly takes a turn for the uncomfortable, however, as Link suddenly finds himself in the center of a quirky, ridiculous love triangle. While player agency ultimately dictates the outcome of this escapade, Link is given the opportunity to grant the ghost’s wishes by giving it a love letter from Cawlin, one of the game’s many NPCs. Should the player pursue this route, they may come across the ghost silently caressing poor Cawlin in the night, believing the letter to have been addressed to it.
Ignorance Is Bliss
Undertale is one of the most adorable games I have ever played. Sure, the game has more than a few utterly insane moments, but, for the most part, it’s a delightful romp through the kind of world which could only be constructed by a loving indie dev. Just about everyone loves Toby Fox’s 2015 hit, and it deserves a spot in the annals of video game history.
Make no mistake, though, the game will definitely have observant players sleeping with the lights on. Very dedicated fans of the game have likely come across The True Lab. This area of the game was apparently used by Alphys, a quirky, socially awkward reptilian scientist. While cute on the outside, Alphy’s secrets are made known by players pacifist players: she is responsible for mutating creatures into awful, monstrous fusions referred to in-game as Amalgamates. Not only is the whole scenario disturbing, but it could definitely serve as nightmare fuel for the game’s younger players.
Negligence Can Be Deadly
The second Naughty Dog title to appear on this list, the Crash Bandicoot series of games recently enjoyed a revitalization in the form of Activision and Sony’s Crash Bandicoot N. Sane Trilogy. It’s nice to see some love for these older titles, and it’s even nicer to see a major game release that isn’t afraid to frustrate its audience.
As series veterans can attest, these games can be difficult, and many will grind their teeth at the mention of the game’s “The High Road” level. Yet, the game can be off-putting in more ways than one. As just about anyone who stuck with the game for more than five minutes will know, at the end of each level, all of the crates missed by the player come raining down on our poor bandicoot friend on the end screen. Only a truly hard-hearted person could abstain from feeling a twinge of guilt upon seeing that. Sure, grabbing all of the collectables in a level is often no small task, but berating Crash for player negligence seems a bit harsh.
Is That an Onix In Your Pocket, Or Are You Just Happy To See Me?
Nintendo tends to take a hard stance against vulgarity in their games, and coming across anything decidedly adult in one of their games can be a rare occurrence. That said, the Pokemon series has more than a few odd quirks and quips. Players who started their adventures on the Game Boy Advance will likely remember a certain trainer who asks the player where she could be keeping her pokeballs if she is wearing a bikini.
While younger fans likely pay no mind to these instances, older fans of the beloved Japanese multimedia franchise probably raised their eyebrows more than a few times over the series twenty year lifespan. One of the strangest instances takes place in Pokemon X and Y in which the player can come across a young trainer interested in Onix. She remarks that “Onix is sooooo big,” and that “riding on Onix would be so much fun.” Sure, hitching a ride on a giant rock/worm hybrid may be a good time, but I’m not sure that’s exactly what she had in mind.
Skeleton Cottage of Doom
Fable II is something of a divisive game. While lots of players are able to look past the series faults, some will simply never get over the franchise’s missing potential. And, though the series’ second installment can certainly be enjoyable, the ending puts a lot of people off, myself included.
Billed as taking place in a world where anything can happen, the game’s creatively titled Demon Doors help to deliver on that promise. While some are obviously marked, there are a of these doors which provide no indication of the horrors that lay beyond. A great moment in game is when the player comes across a set of picturesque winter cottages that would fit right in on a Hallmark card. Crossing the threshold, however, reveals a sinister secret: something awful has apparently happened to the inhabitants, as a group of skeletons are the only occupants of these quaint homes. Unnerving, to be sure—particularly if you’ve yet to add a second digit to your age.
A Helping Hand
Every Zelda fan knew this was going to make the list. Link has definitely had a few brushes with the underside of the Kingdom of Hyrule during his adventures, and I’m not only referring to the bottom of the well in Ocarina of Time. His most infamous run-in with the less-than-innocent came on his second ever outing. In the NES classic The Legend of Zelda: The Adventure of Link, once the player has come to terms with the unique overworld, they’ll likely come across a town in which they can replenish their supplies and talk with the notoriously unhelpful townsfolk.
Everyone knows about the NPC who can utter nothing but the phrase “I am Error.” Yes, it is hilarious, but perhaps that’s simply his name. The read oddity, however, is when Link comes across a woman who offers to restore his life. Our green hero follows her inside, and we aren’t shown what comes next. Yes, this could be interpreted as a situation much more scandalous than Nintendo would allow, but I chose to believe this to be nothing more than a poor English translation… or perhaps a fascination with the red light district.
I am not proud to admit this, but my first experience with Counter Strike: Global Offensive was on a PS3. Today, the thought of playing Valve’s signature competitive shooter with a controller makes me nauseous, but, for whatever reason, that’s the way I chose to play back in 2012.
For those who haven’t had the experience of planting bombs and shooting terrorists on Sony’s seventh generation machine, I’ll fill you in; it was a relatively solid translation to consoles which boasted a fairly active community—on launch, at least. Though the PS3 version of the game didn’t have constant attention from Valve or the ability to play user-created content, it was still enjoyable.
The most important thing about PS3 CS:GO, however, was the fact that it was one of a very small number of Playstation 3 games to include keyboard and mouse support (as well as PS Move support, hilariously enough). Initially, I wasn’t aware of this, and I would occasionally come across a player seemingly much more accurate and dexterous than the rest. Of course, I was envious of these apparently superhuman skills, but it only took me a quick internet search to discover the secret: use a mouse, dummy.
I recognize that this isn’t exactly breaking news—keyboards and mice have been more accurate control input methods than controllers since the inception of the computer. Yet, back in 2012, finding the right gaming mouse to meet my CS:GO needs was a bit of a daunting task. I didn’t know my mouse grip type, wasn’t sure what my weight preferences were, and certainly didn’t have a grasp on all of the bells and whistles that came with most gaming mice.
Today, though nobody is playing Counter Strike on the Playstation 3, there are still plenty of consumers grappling with the complications of purchasing a gaming mouse. It isn’t hard to feel bogged-down in such an expansive, diverse PC peripheral field, and ending up with the wrong mouse may cause a game to become more difficult or cumbersome to play.
To combat this confusion, I’ve created a guide which compares and offers insight into some of the hottest products currently on the market. I’ve taken care to consider as many important design and performance aspects as possible—things like weight, DPI, sensor quality, build quality, durability, and overall cost—to ensure that nobody is forced to play with a controller this holiday season… or wade through all of the obnoxious advertising.
Buttons and Profiles
Razer Deathadder Elite
Razer Mechanical Swtiches
Wireless: 90 grams
Wired: 106 grams
Both come with removable 10g weight
Removable 10g weight
Corsair Glaive RGB
Corsair M65 Pro RGB
115 grams – 135.5 grams
Three removable weights
Razer Naga Hex V2
Razer Mechanical Switches
Razer Deathadder Elite
I’ll be honest—something about Razer irks me, and I think it’s due mostly to their advertising strategies. If you go on their site, you’ll be assaulted by a black and neon color scheme, pro gamer endorsements, and semi-cringey marketing materials that reek of advertising executives pandering to a young demographic.
Be that as it may, they do make some good mice. In particular, the Razer Deathadder Elite is one of the most widely-praised gaming peripherals on the market. Though I don’t necessarily like the Razer brand, I certainly see the appeal of this product, and those searching for a Black Friday deal would do well to keep their eyes on this mouse.
Coming in at just under 100 grams, the Razer Deathadder Elite seems like it would fit well in all but the tiniest of hands. Plus, in my experience, Razer’s mice tend to be of a relatively high quality, though some say they are lacking in durability.
When it comes to gaming mice, however, one of the most crucial aspects is accuracy, and if your mouse doesn’t match your movements perfectly, it can add a whole new level of difficulty to any game. With the Razer Deathadder Elite, though, I doubt you’ll ever suffer from a lack of precision. With 16,000 maximum DPI and 450 IPS tracking, this mouse should perform perfectly—even in the hands of the twitchiness users. Plus, you’ll get all the customizability available with Razer’s Synapse software.
Plus, at $49.99, Razer has made the Deathadder Elite a relatively fiscally accessible product. At the end of the day, I think Razer will meet the needs of most consumers with this mouse, though serious MOBA players will likely want to forgo this in favor of something with a few more buttons.
Another well-regarded mouse, Logitech’s G403 stands out due to the fact that buyers can choose either a wired or wireless option. While most would likely write off that second option due to the notorious inaccuracy of wireless mice, Logitech really seems to provide a valid option here, and those who particularly dislike cable drag, or cables altogether, should consider this product. The G403 also comes with a removable 10 gram weight, which is a tremendous asset to those interested in changing the weight of their mice when playing different games. However, I don’t find this method quite as useful as the three-weight system utilized by some gaming mice.
Like most high-performance mice, the Logitech G403 offers adjustable DPI up to 12,000, which should suit the needs of most gamers. One neat gimmick included with this product is that users can store their settings in the mouse itself. That means that mouse presets can be easily accessed anywhere and won’t require the use of software to activate, though this is far from the only mouse to include a feature like this.
Though it does come equipped with customizable RGB lighting, the mouse’s design is probably a bit drab when compared to other gaming mice of the same price tier. However, despite this moderate shortcoming, I don’t think you can really go wrong with this product.
Initially, I was planning to include Logitech’s G903 on this list instead of the G703. However, I find the design of that particular mouse to be a bit too jagged. It almost feels like a homage to the Batmobile in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Plus, Logitech is currently asking for $150 for the G903, which is fifty dollars more than the G703, and, in my opinion, much more than the average consumer should be spending on a mouse.
This mouse is remarkably similar to the G403 wireless variant, as it has a relatively similar build, the same sensor, similar weight configuration, and the same maximum DPI. The real selling point for this mouse is its ability to wirelessly charge while on the pad. Again, most serious gamers likely aren’t interested in wireless gaming mice, but Logitech’s product seems to do away with much of the lag plaguing similar mice. On their site, Logitech claims this mouse to be capable of a one millisecond report rate, which seems like an incredible feat for a wireless mouse.
Ultimately, the $99.99 price point might seem like a bit much to ask. Yet, for those particularly interested in non-wired mice, this seems to be a great option.
The Corsair Glaive is something of a preferential model—at 120 grams, only those with large hands or a real fondness for heavy mice will be interested in this offering. It’ll be an even tougher sell when you consider the fact that the Glaive doesn’t offer any customization in terms of weight. That said, Corsair seems to deliver a high quality product with the Corsair Glaive, particularly with the slightly heavier aluminum variant.
However, with a very high 16,000 adjustable DPI, pmw 3366 optical sensor, this thing will be every bit as accurate as you are. It also comes with three interchangeable thumb grips, and is, as you’d expect, tricked out with customizable RGB lighting.
I do find the mouse wheel and two side buttons to be a bit large and cumbersome, though I suppose these large features well accompany a larger mouse. An interesting feature included on this mouse is the ability to toggle between different report rates, which might be nice for someone constantly switching from games to web browsers.
Corsair M65 Pro
On-the-fly DPI adjustability isn’t exactly anything new, but Corsair apparently wants to really bring the point of it home with a designated “sniper” button. Literally designated as such on their website, the DPI toggle, which is even adorned with a crosshair, takes up a majority of the valuable thumb-area real estate. Though it might make the mouse seem a bit gimmicky, I enjoy the accessibility of this feature.
Another major factor in this product’s appeal is the ability to thoroughly customize the weight of the mouse. Unlike Logitech’s single ten gram weight, the Corsair M65 Pro includes three small weights which can make the mouse as light as 115 grams, or as heavy as 135 grams. Although, misconfiguration of these weights may result in an oddly balanced peripheral.
Corsair’s M65 Pro also comes with eight customizable buttons. For some users, eight buttons might seem like overkill, though those who dabble in MOBAs or RTS games might enjoy the extra leverage.
Razer Naga Hex V2
This mouse doesn’t seem to be nearly as well-respected as some of the other mice on this list, perhaps because it only feels like a very slight upgrade from the original Naga Hex. The main draw to this mouse, in my opinion, is the inclusion of a thumb ring in lieu of the more traditional keypad design. As someone who isn’t exactly accustomed to MOBA-oriented mice, I feel that this product is much easier to wrap my head around than a batch of nine or ten buttons clumped together on the side of my mouse.
This is likely somewhat of a controversial inclusion, but, for those searching for a MOBA or RTS ready mouse that avoids the intrinsic clunkiness of a numeric pad, Razer’s Naga Hex V2 seems like a good choice. Plus, like most Razer products, it is an RGB mouse that comes with all of the customization options afforded to users of Razer Synapse.
It has often been said that there is no such thing as a “one size fits all” gaming mouse, and, after combing through the web to find the best mice on the market, I would agree that this is certainly the case. So many separate factors go into these mice that it is nearly impossible to point to one product and claim that it will offer the ideal experience. For those sincerely interested in getting their hands on the best product for them, I would recommend heading out and trying these peripherals for yourself—you’ll never truly know what you’re getting until you’ve used it for yourself.
So, be it a button heavy League of Legends accessory, or perhaps a lighter, more accurate FPS conduit, I think these mice will be a good starting point for your holiday hunt.
In years past, solid state drives were something of a novelty. Perhaps a bit reminiscent of the 3D TV craze of the early 2010’s, SSDs were flashy, fascinating novelties that, despite their potential, were much too expensive for the average consumer. The difference between 3D TVs and SSDs, however, was that the latter drastically reduced in price over the years. You also didn’t have to wear ridiculous 3D glasses to use a solid state drive, which was another major plus.
Thanks to that price reduction, SSDs have become something of a default storage solution for most PC gamers. They are much, much faster than their hard disk counterparts. Though there is certainly something to be said for the massive storage size of most spinning disk drives, loading a game from an HDD can be downright painful. Every PC player booting an OS or a game from a hard disk drive knows how tedious this can be; you start the game, wait for it to load, lose patience, get up to go to the bathroom, make a sandwich, maybe take a walk around the neighborhood, and come back later to find the thing still loading.
Maybe that is a bit of an overstatement, but it is true that SSDs are so fast that their becoming borderline mandatory for PC gamers. So, to cater to growing consumer demand, Drevo, an up-and-coming tech company officially founded in 2015, have recently released their Ares 256GB PCIE NVMe SSD. Now, in a market relatively saturated with PC storage options, it can certainly be difficult to craft a product that stands out. Drevo certainly makes a valid attempt to catch the eyes of consumers with a few unique choices, though, ultimately, the success of this product will be contentious.
First and foremost, Drevo claims this drive to be capable of a 1400mb/s sequential read speed, and a 600mb/s sequential write speed. While certainly not competitive when compared to some of the ultra fast top-of-the-line solid state drives, this product seems to operate well enough given the price range.
The main feature, however, seems to be the inclusion of PCI Express bus and NVMe protocol support. This is the first of Drevo’s SSDs to host these inclusion, making the Ares the most advanced of Drevo’s solid state drive offerings. PCI Express, which surpasses the speed bottleneck imposed by traditional Serial ATA connections, seems to be the way of the future, and those eager to take advantage of the quickest read and write speeds would do well to look for drives that forgo SATA bus interfaces.
At the end of the day, the read and write speeds toted on the Ares’s packaging will certainly be fast enough for most users, but those looking to really get the most out of their SSDs will likely look for products in higher price tiers.
The Drevo Ares makes some unique, sometimes questionable design decisions, though none of these decisions impact the product negatively. Perhaps the most useful inclusion the the physical design of the drive would be the addition of a heatsink. Of course, keeping PC components cool is vital, especially to those who don’t have much space either in or around their computers. However, since an SSD heatsink typically costs somewhere in the neighborhood of ten dollars, it is a bit of an odd, possibly unnecessary inclusion.
The most interesting aspect of this product by far, however, would be the inclusion of what can only really be described as an SSD turbo button. Most of us likely remember that oddly named switch that appeared on most computers from the 80’s, 90’s, and early 2000’s—it essentially slowed the computer’s CPU to allow for the use of programs originally intended for much slower processors. Though a useful method of extending the life of certain pieces of software, particularly games, back in the day, it is a curious inclusion on an SSD. Why would anyone one this feature on their solid state drive? I have absolutely no idea, but Drevo seems to find it important.
This switch allows the user to toggle between three modes, labeled “S,” “D,” and “P.” Essentially, these options may be thought of as standard mode, reduced speed, and power saving mode respectively. Again, it doesn’t make any obvious sense to include an option to reduce the speed of a component that is literally optimized for increased speed. Yet, the option is there for those interested in this apparent SSD paradox.
The Ares seems to have been built to compete with something like Samsung’s EVO 960 250GB SSD. Since Samsung’s is the older product, it retails for around thirty dollars less than Drevo’s new SSD depending on where you look. Drevo wants you to stump up $150 for this drive, and that seems like somewhat of a reasonable price, though it leans slightly on the pricier side considering some of the product’s shortcomings.
The main downside here is the drive’s extremely limited storage space. The drive only allows for 256GB of storage, which, as we all know, could be filled up rather quickly. With some games topping out at 80GB or more of required space, it is difficult to recommend springing for a drive with such a low storage ceiling. The Drevo Ares is bootable, too, which means that, despite the small storage size, the drive will still be useful if made to boot an OS and possibly store a few other programs on top of that.
The Drevo Ares seems to be a competent low to mid tier solid state drive. It isn’t going to shock the world, but it does represent an advancement in personal computer storage, as it is the only Drevo product which currently takes advantage of PCIE and NVMe technology. Those prioritizing speed over storage space will likely find this product to suit their needs, but those looking to pack entire steam libraries onto their PCs might want to look elsewhere
In the world of PC gaming, peripherals are a huge deal. Whether they are lining up the perfect shot, meticulously manipulating objects in a complex puzzle, or quickly configuring a loadout before the beginning of a match, players want to be sure that their gear won’t fail them. It stands to reason, then, that, in most cases, cut-rate equipment just won’t do.
Of course, few things are quite as important as the keyboard when it comes to gaming on PC, and it should come as no surprise that, in a scene where precision and swiftness are key, players want the optimal gaming setup. However, that setup often comes with quite the pricetag, and gaming keyboards can become quite expensive. Fortunately, with the release of the Cynosa Chroma Pro, Razer is looking to deliver a quality, stylish keyboard within a reasonable price range. Does Razer’s new product represent a credible threat to its entry level keyboard competitors? Well, though the Cynosa Chroma Pro excels in some areas, it underperforms in others, and the longevity of this product on the market is certainly worthy of debate.
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As with most products equipped with Razer Chroma, presentation is key, and, tricked out with individually programmable backlit keys and a customizable underglow feature on the left, right, and front of the keyboard, the Cynosa Chroma Pro is quite the looker. Keeping very much in trend with modern keyboard design, Razer’s new release is loaded with customisable LED lighting; so much so that Razer claims the keyboard to be capable of 16.8 million color options. What’s more, the programmable twenty-four zone underglow accessory, which seems to be an additional set of twenty-four LED lights on the sides of the keyboard, means that users can tweak and change the color of this product to their hearts content. It is worth noting, however, that the underglow feature is exclusive to the Pro model.
Though that is certainly impressive, the more practically-minded consumer might question the applications of such a flashy peripheral. Of course, Razer hasn’t let an opportunity to enhance the gaming experience slip, and they’ve included the ability to integrate the Cynosa Chroma Pro with certain games. Perhaps comparable to Alienware’s Alien FX, the Cynosa Chroma Pro can shift through and alter its color palette in-game, which could enhance the intensity or ambiance of a player’s favorite title. On top of that, this keyboard offers the ability to manipulate the backlighting of each specific key, meaning that a game’s tutorial could indicate necessary keystrokes via the keyboard instead of through on-screen prompts.
As previously mentioned, the Cynosa Chroma Pro is insanely customizable when it comes to the color pallet, and, with the addition of Razor Synapse 3 integration, users will be able to define their aesthetic preferences to a very fine degree. According to Razer, players can “rebind buttons, assign macros, personalize device lighting and more to transform your gameplay just the way you want it.” Bottom line: this thing is colorful, and those looking to give their rig a facelift would do well to give this keyboard a try.
Though certainly a visually unique product, Razer’s most recent release appears to lack the precision most consumers would be looking for in a gaming keyboard. To begin, its a membrane keyboard, which must immediately turn some gamers off. Of course, this is something a consumer would likely come to expect from a product in this price-range. Razer counters this downside by stating that the “…soft cushioned gaming keys provide comfort with better housing support compared to rubber dome keyboards, so every keypress is solid.” Though it might sound like a nice selling point, a lot of gamers in the market for a quality keyboard will likely interpret “soft cushioned gaming keys” to mean “imprecise, difficult to maneuver gaming keys.” They also make mention of the fact that the Razer Cynosa Chroma Pro is very quiet. Though that is a well-known aspect of most non-mechanical keyboards, it may be valuable to gamers looking to enjoy their hobby without annoying their co-workers or roommates.
Once again, Razer is attempting to compensate the product’s lack of responsiveness for a suite of user-friendly options, chief of which is the keyboard’s extensive macro ability. Through Synapse 3, users can generate their own apparently limitless keyboard macros, which can certainly help players quickly input button combinations that may otherwise be difficult to perform on a membrane keyboard. Plus, Razer’s product also enables the user to rebind buttons, which could definitely help with games that don’t feature rebindable control schemes, or perhaps enable gamers with certain disabilities to better access all of a game’s features.
Additionally, the Cynosa Chroma Pro features ten key rollover, a 1,000Hz polling rate, and is spill-resistant. The latter feature should be of particular importance to clumsy gamers, or perhaps users with overly-cluttered or compact workstations.
While certainly a product that aims to catch the eye of friends and fellow gamers, this price point certainly won’t seem reasonable for everyone. Someone with a sincere interest in LED-laden keyboards might want to look into this product, but, at $79.99 for the pro variant, it is hard to imagine Razer making much of a splash in the entry-level gaming keyboard market with this release. For those seeking an entry point for gaming-oriented keyboards, there are certainly cheaper options of comparable quality available.
Razer likely intended for the Cynosa line of keyboards to contend with Corsair’s K55, as well as similar inexpensive gaming keyboards. However, the K55 is much more affordable at $49.99, and, though it doesn’t share the extensive LED customizability of the Cynosa Chroma Pro, it boasts a much more accessible price tag. Razer would do well to make an attempt to match this price-point if they are interested in selling more units.
As most PC gamers know, gaming on run-of-the-mill accessories can be difficult, and could potentially put the player at a disadvantage. Although what is lacks in precision is made up for in style, the Razer Cynosa Chroma Pro keyboard will likely be a tough sell for most consumers. Ultimately, the product appears to be a bit too expensive, and, though aesthetically-conscious or spill-prone gamers might be interested, the Pro model of Razer’s new Cynosa Chroma keyboards should probably be ignored until the price is reduced. Alternatively, those who are interested in the product may want to purchase the less-expensive $59.99 variant.