Gamer

Super Smash Bros. on the big screen, Sunday 4/13!

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The Nintendo game Super Smash Bros. Melee was supposed to be a party game, “fun for the whole family,” as the kids say. 

Mario sets Princess Zelda on fire. Donkey Kong smacks Pikachu so hard the little yellow rodent flies across the screen. Commercials for one version of the game feature Bugs Bunny-esque cartoon smackings, as costumed actors roll down a grassy knoll. The adorableness of Melee belies a mystery: How did a Nintendo game from 2001 become the focus of cutthroat national video game competitions?Read more »

From brushes to bytes

CAREERS + ED ISSUE Artists find their way into video games, despite a boom-and-bust industry

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joe@sfbg.com

CAREERS AND ED Matt Burdette is a video game environment artist, crafting expansive alien vistas by tapping out ones and zeroes the way a painter flourishes a brush. But unlike paint on canvas, Burdette's vistas are meant to be explored by video game avatars hunting computerized enemies.Read more »

Play on

Gamer singles out the mainstream videogame hits of 2013 — and a few smaller picks, too

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arts@sfbg.com

YEAR IN GAMER The year 2013 has been a triumphant, confident peak in a particularly long generation of gaming, and as we gather around various top ten lists to send off the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 in style, let it be remembered that the pair received a more-than-decent eulogy. Most of the year's accolades will likely fall upon three games, and while all involve guns, shooting and explosions, the refinements of those mechanics demonstrate the medium is unquestionably evolving.Read more »

Pros and cons(oles)

Will Microsoft or Sony win the battle for consumer love? Gamer tests out the new consoles.

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arts@sfbg.com

GAMER The next generation of game consoles is officially in stores and consumers demand to know — definitively — which is the superior console. Is it the PlayStation 4 or the Xbox One?Read more »

And joysticks for all

All hail Dominique Pamplemousse! A growing movement -- spurred by gatherings like QGCon and GaymerX -- rallies for diversity in video games.

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joe@sfbg.com

GAMER Video game heroes often fit the same bland archetype: a hetero white dude with short hair and just the right amount of manly stubble. But now some Bay Area game advocates are pushing that burly soldier with the suspiciously large gun out of his closet.Read more »

Console prizes

Gamer reports on E3 — and 2013's best title so far

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arts@sfbg.com

GAMER The days of game consoles being all about pretty graphics are over. The leap in visual fidelity when we went from PlayStation 2 to PlayStation 3 isn't going to happen this time, which is one reason it's been seven years since the current consoles have been refreshed. All that changes this year, with the impending release of the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4.Read more »

Threequel blues

GAMER: Impressive graphics can't save the too-familiar 'Crysis 3'

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arts@sfbg.com

GAMER Crysis 3 (Crytek/Electronic Arts; PC, PS3, Xbox 360)is a very familiar experience, and not just for players versed in the story and mechanics of the Crysis series. If you've played a futuristic shooter in the past 10 years, you've seen everything Crysis 3 has to offer: a hodgepodge of sci-fi clichés, stealth combat, and big alien guns. It's an exercise in déjà vu that leaves little in the way of a lasting impression, but it's a really good-looking hodgepodge.Read more »

Good. But revolutionary?

'Assassin's Creed III' takes on the American Revolution

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'Assassin's Creed III'

(Ubisoft Montreal/Ubisoft)

Xbox 360, PS3, PC Read more »

Overkill

You in danger, girl! Resident Evil 6 has a lot going on.
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Resident Evil 6

(Capcom)

Xbox 360, PS3, PC Read more »

A non-game Gamer review: Astro A50 deadphones

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Guardian video game reviewer Peter Galvin tests out technology designed to enhance the gaming experience. Product was provided for review purposes.

Someone once labeled current gaming headset star Astro Gaming the "Beats of gaming," referring to the enormously successful Beats by Dre product line of consumer headsets. It's a comparison Astro itself seems eager to encourage and, while aligning your company with such a ubiquitous brand name makes sense financially, more discerning audiophiles are quick to point out that most of the cash you shell out for a pair of Beats is for name-brand style rather than for sound.

However, Astro Gaming seems to be looking to the Beats phenomenon more as a guide to positioning itself at the top of the industry for premium gaming headphones. The market isn't exactly teeming with game-specific headsets, so when I say the new Astro A50 (Astro Gaming, $299) headphones are some of the best money can buy in this category it doesn't automatically mean they're mind-blowing. It does suggest that Astro's first big release in three years is conclusively about looking towards the future rather than playing catch-up.

A local San Francisco company, Astro has made a name for itself by selling headsets solely on its own website, and, with the release of the A50, it hopes to expand the web store into a downtown retail space. Gaming is in the process of legitimizing itself for mature players and Astro wants a place in that richer realm, not just for posterity's sake but because we're talking about a market that's growing every day. As the average age of game players rises (currently somewhere between 30 and 35 years old), the industry has seen a rise in gamers and tech enthusiasts with considerably deeper pockets.

Read more »