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    Wednesday
    Nov042015

    What is Beme?

    By: Matthew Scullin '18
    PTS Falconer Staff

    On July 17th 2015, Beme was launched onto the App Store, looking to solve many of the problems found with social media today. Casey Neistat, founder and creator of Beme, says that “Social media is supposed to be a digital or virtual version of who we are as people.” However, in today’s modern society, social media creates false personas about people’s authentic selves.

    Whether it be through pretty filters and carefully selected images, or the number of likes and followers on a page; social media tends to portray a version of who we are rather than our true personalities.  However, this defeats the original purpose of social media and further distances itself from reality. The objective of Beme was to create a platform that would bridge the gap between real life and social media by allowing people to share their experiences firsthand instead of watching your life fly by through your screen.

    Most other social media apps, when wanting to take a photo or video require you to pull out your phone and press record. Now, instead of experiencing firsthand whatever you are sharing, you spend it looking at a small pixelated screen, making sure you have the best shot, or scrutinizing over the way you look. Beme wanted to eliminate this element of watching life’s best moments through your phone.

    Casey Neistat states “With Beme, we wanted to do something different, we wanted you to be able to maintain eye contact, we wanted you to keep staring at the sunset, and we wanted you to keep watching the rock concert, while still letting you share.” So Beme has created a revolutionary way to share small videos by simply placing your screen against a surface such as your chest, or wall and not have to press record. They achieved this by using the proximity sensor, so when it detects a surface it begins to record a small four-second video, somewhat like a Snapchat story. The phone vibrates when it begins recording a video and does so again when finished. This entire function eliminates the need to use a screen when attempting to capture a special moment. Simply put, Beme allows you to continue sharing without having the need to look at your phone.

    The app revolves around these four-second videos, which are instantly sent out to all of your friends to enjoy. There is no preview or review of the video or “Beme”, once recorded there is no turning back. Viewing on Beme is similar to Snapchat, where you hold down to watch a video that has been posted by one of your friends. Once viewed it is gone forever. Rather than having likes or thumbs up, the app lets you take a real time selfie when watching someone else's Beme. So if you liked anything in particular about their recorded moment you tap on the screen to send a selfie showing you enjoyed what you watched. Theses selfies are called “reactions” so then can you view your friends reactions to your Beme by seeing the selfie they sent you. Being able to see their genuine expression and reaction to your video is one of the highlights of the app. All of these functions make Beme a unique platform on the App store that in many ways separate it from the common conception of social media.

    Authenticity is in short supply online, with social media forcing us to present over-stylized and over-perfect versions of ourselves to our world. Beme seeks to solve this problem through its authentic platform, along with its many innovative features. Yes, the app won’t come to the likes of everyone and is up against some very tough competition. However, Casey Neistat is not worried about downloads. He believes that Beme’s authenticity will create the incentive to win over a community who wish to broadcast themselves in a different way, a community who wants to show their true selves.

    Monday
    Sep212015

    Review: Etrian Odyssey 2 The Fafnir Knight 3DS

    By FRANCESCO LOMBARDO '17
    PTS Falconer Assistant Editor 
    SCORE:10/10

    Photos courtesy of Google Images

    Atlus has rarely let us down, with its impressive lineup of games such as the Persona Series and the Shin Megami Tensei Series. Etrian Odyssey lives up to the Atlus seal of quality. A very deep and intriguing game all about exploration and leveling up your party, Etrian Odyssey 2 is a perfect blend of exploration, combat, story, and RPG mechanics.

    Etrian odyssey is a game largely focused on dungeon exploration. You are actually forced to draw the games map by hand on the lower screen of your Nintendo 3DS. This is actually great for customization, as you can draw and paint in whatever colors you like. There is also a huge assortment of different icons for you to place on your map, making it easier to mark where things are.


    The gameplay largely consists of going into dungeons and exploring. In the dungeons you’ll progress farther into the story line and there are also many side quest options. The combat is fairly straightforward; it’s a turn-based system where each of your characters will attack in turn. It’s very similar to the Pokémon games in that sense. The leveling system is also extremely detailed, boasting an immense amount of skills. A nice little bonus is an extra mode (alongside the story mode) that allows you to create your own team of adventurers instead of using the main characters from the story. This means that there is a bunch of content in here, with two different story modes and a ton of classes and skills.


    There’s a great central hub town where you can shop for goods, take a rest, and accept different quests from different townsfolk. It also has a small city management portion, a nice addition to the gameplay.

    Overall, Etrian Odyssey Untold 2 is a great addition to any 3DS library. Whether you’ve played the old Etrian Odyssey games or not, this game is sure to keep you entertained for hours and hours to come, especially if you’re a fan of RPGs.

    Tuesday
    Mar032015

    Review: The "New" Nintendo 3DS

    By FRANCESCO LOMBARDO
    PTSFalconer.com STAFF WRITER
    SCORE: 10/10
    Nintendo always releases reiterations of their last console with new upgrades. For example, we had the Gameboy Color after the Gameboy, and the Nintendo DSi after the original Nintendo DS. Nintendo’s newest console is a reiteration of the 3DS named (wait for it) the “new” 3DS. Yes that’s the name of the console, the “new” Nintendo 3DS.  Name aside, this 3DS really does deserve its new name. It brings a host of new features to an already good system making it amazing.

    The new 3DS has had some new buttons added; such as ZL and ZR shoulder buttons. These buttons make it easier for some games to expand its controls to be more like a console experience. A c-stick was added, which allows for better camera movement and other controls in many games. One of my favorite uses of the c-stick is the ability to use and charge smash attacks in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS. The c-stick is like a little nub that you’d find on an old Lenovo laptop, but it is extremely responsive and a creative way to add a second joystick.
    Also, inside the system is a faster processor that will load games and apps at twice the speed of the old 3DS. We can really see this improvement in Super Smash Bros. as the old 3DS loads it in about 30 and the new 3DS loads it in about 10 – 15 (depending on the SD card you have in your system). A faster download speed for e-shop items is also a great-added bonus.

    The one thing that actually surprised me about the new 3DS is the super stable 3D. I did not think that it would actually work; I thought it was going to be a failed gimmick that would degrade the 3D experience even more. I am glad to say that the super stable 3D actually works, and works quite well! A small infrared camera tracks your head movement and adjusts the 3D according to your head position. This is great as the 3D always stays in focus and rarely goes out of focus. Old games become new again when you can actually enjoy the 3D features that were designed for them.
    A new NFC reader in the 3DS allows for the use of Amiibo figures in many games. The only game supporting Amiibos at this moment is Super Smash Bros. but they are still great fun and really boost the experience.

    Although the new 3DS is an excellent console and a great upgrade, it still has some flaws that could’ve easily been avoided. The SD card is now located on the back of the system, and a size #0 screw driver is required to remove the back panel to access it. Also, the SD cards have now been changed to micro SD meaning they’ll be more expensive than standard SD cards. This is a minor flaw that doesn’t really retract from the experience. I changed out my micro SD to a 32gb and I don’t have to worry about opening the back again.

    Verdict

    The new 3DS is truly worthy of its name, boasting various new features such as double the processor and RAM, NFC reader for Amiibos, new controls, and exclusive games for the future. Minor things such as having to open the back panel to access the micro SD card aren’t reasons to not buy this console. I would recommend this to any one wanting to buy a handheld game console or upgrade from a past version of the 3DS or 3DS XL.

     

     

    Thursday
    Feb052015

    "New" 3DS XL Preview

    By FRANCESCO LOMBARDO
    PTSFalconer.com STAFF WRITER

    Yes you read that right, Nintendo’s new handheld game console appropriately named the “new” 3DS will be arriving on North American shores next Friday, but what can you expect from the Japanese company’s new handheld? Well we’ll walk you through all the differences.

    Hardware

    This newest installment really does earn the name “new” boasting various new hardware improvements to the 3DS.

    1.  The new 3DS XL is thinner than its old counterpart coming in at 21.5mm thick while the original 3DS XL came in at 22mm. The new system is longer at 196mm while the old is 156mm long and the new system is 93.5mm while the old was 93mm. Not huge differences but they should be noted, as they are changes.

    2.  The new 3DS XL now has a c stick, a small little nub in the upper right hand corner of the screen that works just like an old laptop nub. This can be used for camera control in games such as the Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate, and Xenoblade Chronicles 3D. It can also be used to execute smash attacks in Super Smash Bros. 3D.

    The c –stick on the “new” 3DS XL

    3.  Now included on the systems are the ZL and ZR buttons, two additional shoulder buttons much like Nintendo’s pro-controllers for the Wii u and Wii consoles.

    4.  The game cartridge slot has now been moved to the bottom of the system, as well as the power button and the stylus.

    5.  The SD card is now inside the system and its back plate must be removed to access it (bummer) as well as the battery pack.

    6.  It now has a faster processer that can load games two times faster than the previous model, it can load up Smash Bros. in a mere 15 seconds while the old 3DS took 30.

    7.  The newest and most anticipated feature is the face tracking 3D. On the old systems when the 3D feature was in use a slight hand movement would make the 3D feature go out of focus and cause eye strain. Now this new system has included another camera on the front which tracks the users face and adjusts the 3D according to head position.

    8.  Other notable features include the faster Wi-Fi download speeds (also doubled) and now there is no longer a physical wireless switch, it now resides within the system settings on the home screen.

    Software

    Not much has changed in terms of software but here are the few key features.

    1.  It now supports Amiibos, Nintendo figures that can be used in various games. Simply tap the figure on the touch screen to use them in games such as Smash Bros. and Codename Project S.T.E.A.M.

    2.  The new 3DS allows you to wirelessly transfer files from your Windows PC to the new system.

    I hope you enjoyed this preview and be sure to check back in a few weeks where I review the system and give my personal verdict on it. 

    Friday
    Nov142014

    Review - Super Smash Brothers for 3DS

    By KEVIN CHARDAVOYN
    PTSFalconer.com STAFF WRITER
    SCORE: 8 – 10 

    Photos courtesy of Google Images

    Since the dawn of time, there was one question being constantly asked. A topic that has led to anarchy within many fan groups and that has ruined many friendships. This topic being, if two characters fought each other, who would win. 


    On November 19, 1999, Nintendo released a game that would finally answer this question. That game was called Super Smash Brothers. Super Smash Brothers was a simplified mascot fighter that pitted 8 of Nintendo’s best characters against each other. The game was just amazing, and was the perfect way to start off one of gaming’s best franchises.


    Now, about 15 years have gone by, and the franchise lived on to shape the childhoods of millions of kids, myself included. Now, on October 3rd, Nintendo and Namco Bandai released the future of smash bros. A portable installment that would take the amazing smash bros action into the palm of our hands. Well, this is one of the best transitions to a hand held that I have ever seen. 

    First off, the game feels amazing. The game is a whole lot faster than Brawl, and the physics engine is near perfect.  This is one of those games where you feel like you are in complete control, and it just works beautifully. Whether you are blasting away Mii’s as Samus, or chopping a tree down on an unsuspecting foe as the Villager, you are in complete control, and everything feels amazing. 


    Gameplay Footage 

    As for the control scheme, however, it is not the best. It works wonders for this version, but in the end, it takes some getting used to.  It tries to mimic the game cube controls, but in the end, it just doesn’t feel the same.  But look on the bright side, you can remap the keys to make it fit your every need.


    The Character roster on the other hand is just amazing. There are about 53 characters, and most of them feel unique. It also seems like all the characters are pretty well balanced in this version. Unlike Brawl where Metanight always reigned supreme, all the characters seem to be at an equal tier. Thanks to this, it is easier to counter pick characters against your friends. Also, it seems as if there is a character for every play style. The high speed acrobatic meelee combat of Zero Suit Samus feels nothing like the slow meelee tank of Gannon. It just feels more balanced and more diverse than ever.


    While speaking of characters, character customization is amazing. Through the game, you can unlock custom moves, and custom gear. Even though I prefer going with the traditional versions of each fighter, the custom move sets are perfect for anybody who likes customizing the game. I am also impressed by how balanced it feels.


    The stages are. . . interesting. First off, there is Omega Mode. The surface is completely flat and all the stages are now Final Destination. There are also many returning stages from Brawl as well as some new stages, which are just amazing. Rainbow road feels beautiful, Prism Tower is just amazing, Dream Land is a perfect homage to the Kirby franchise, and Spirit Train is easily one my favorite smash bros stages of all time. Then, there are the enemy stages. Those are OK. Wiley’s Castle would be perfect if it wasn’t for an enemy Yellow Devil taking over the map. Find Mii is ruined by an opposing ghost and Magnicant is plagued by partner flying men.

    The graphics, are not the best, yet not the worst. Even though it is not as beautiful as the Wii U version or Brawl, 3DS smash 4 has a nice cell shaded style to it. It is not all that impressive, but it serves its purpose.


    The items are amazing, but at the same time I hate the lack of an Item frequency slider. In Brawl and Meelee, I loved playing with all the items on low frequency. Yet with the high frequency of Smash 3D, you are either Item gaming or playing with no items. The Items keep on overriding all of the matches, so item matches go down to being the first to grab each item.

    Now let’s talk about the single player modes.


    Well, you have Classic mode. This version of Classic mode is easily the best version. In this version, you have to fight 5 fights before going up against a final boss.  Well, this version allows you to pick your fights. You have a lineup of 3 different possible battles. The harder fights will give you more gold and rewards upon completion.  In the end, this version of Classic mode seems to be nothing more than gambling in game money on your skills. I love it. I have made about 100 attempts at Classic mode so far, a good 20 of them being successful. I don’t see this mode getting boring any time soon.

    Then there is All Star mode. I am not the biggest fan. You have to go fight all of the characters in order of initial appearance.  You only have three healing items for your whole run. I have made about 20 attempts at All Star mode, yet I don’t see the appeal.

    Then you have the classic multi-man smash and homerun contests. They are just as amazing as they were in previous installments.

    Now there is target blast. This mode revolves around building up damage on a time bomb and launching the bomb at targets. I just don’t see the appeal behind this mode, as it is just a horrible, more strategic version of Homerun contest.

    In the end, the Single player modes are somewhat disappointing, with the exception of Classic mode which is just perfect.

    And then there is Smash Run. The mode that Nintendo hyped up the most.
     

    In the end, Super Smash Brothers for 3DS is a good installment in the Smash Brothers Franchise.  The Gameplay is amazing, the graphics are beautiful, and this version is just a whole lot of fun.  Yet at the same time, it just seems to be lacking in content (compared to the rest of the franchise) and the single player modes are just not up to par with the single player modes in previous versions.  In the end, the 3DS version just seems like a demo for the Wii U version that will be releasing on November 21’st.  If the WiiU version plays as well as the 3DS version, yet has loads of more content, we are in for a real treat.