Around Orlando – Retrogaming Done Right at Gamer’s, Inc.

They’re warm, they’re friendly, they’re knowledgeable. They can converse easily on a range of titles on any number of systems dating from the last 35 years. Best of all, they listen to you.

Gamersinc_Exterior

Around Orlando is a new feature here at Late to the Theater, wherein Achariya and I detail local Orlando flavor. So whether you’re thinking about visiting, moving here soon, or just want to explore from the comfort of the internet, have a seat and take a gander at what The City Beautiful has to offer!

[Disclaimer: I received no compensation or special favors for writing this article – it is entirely to Gamer’s, Inc.’s credit that they inspire a dedicated following.]

Nestled in the suburban franchise paradise that is Waterford Lakes, Orlando, you will find an independently owned gaming shop. Upon first glance, you’ll notice orderly rows of cases – everything from Atari titles to used Xbox One and PS4s – and freestanding demo stations where you can sample Halo on a first-gen Xbox, or Duck Hunt on NES, complete with orange gun. As well as the clean floors and meticulously alphabetized game boxes, you’ll see gaming manuals, figurines, and locked cases with rare or collectible cartridges and discs inside. Reconditioned systems wait behind the glassed counter. Spend a few minutes roaming the aisles and you’ll hear at least one, maybe two excited customers exclaiming over some long-forgotten childhood treasure. You might see parents buying something to share with their kids.

And then the staff greets you.

That’s how you know you’re in Gamer’s, Inc.

They’re warm, they’re friendly, they’re knowledgeable. They can converse easily on a range of titles on any number of systems dating from the last 35 years. Best of all, they listen to you. Maybe things have gotten better in gamerspaces in recent years and I’m just out of touch, but in an age of Gamergate and doxing, it seems borderline miraculous to find an environment where customers aren’t dismissed as filthy casuals. Naturally, a positive environment such as the one found at Gamer’s, Inc. engenders a loyal following. Check out their Yelp review or their Facebook community if you don’t believe it.

And if you don’t believe it, believe them. They were kind enough to take time from their busy days to answer some questions for this feature.

Continue reading “Around Orlando – Retrogaming Done Right at Gamer’s, Inc.”

Around Orlando – Horror Happenings with the Dead Girl

Around Orlando is a new feature here at Late to the Theater, wherein Achariya and I will detail local Orlando flavor. So whether you’re thinking about visiting, moving here soon, or just want to explore from the comfort of the internet, have a seat and take a gander! We will be sure to disclose any goods or services we receive. 

Recently I discovered a friend’s fiancée runs an awesome YouTube channel tying together some of my interests – horror, Halloween decor, and living in Orlando!

Say hello to Horror Happenings with the Dead Girl!

Continue reading “Around Orlando – Horror Happenings with the Dead Girl”

Game Review: Tomb Raider (2013)

..with TR, it was different. I learned lessons a LOT faster in Tomb Raider, because Lara’s gruesome death scenes bothered me so much. Add to that the Solarii’s smugness after they kill her, which you can hear, and I was NOT going to make the same mistake again. That’s not to say that I blew through the game with minimal deaths– half the time I was my own worst enemy and would wander off the edge of cliffs, jump over railings to my doom, or blow myself up by walking into a room full of flammable gas with a lit torch. But! I did beat it, and I did manage to get lots of headshots on bad guys, as well as some pretty badass kills. So I was very pleased with myself overall. I just hope to God there isn’t some kind of record that will tell me how many times I died– I’m pretty sure such a number would be expressed in scientific notation, and I’d be depressed.

From the Wikipedia page
The PC game cover

I never owned any of the games, and I remember struggling to play one of the Tomb Raider games on the PS1. I wanted to play it, but I found the controls difficult (I hadn’t been gaming for a while and never made the time to sit down and finish the game). It was a series I was always meaning to get around to. I found the movies entertaining, but beyond that my familiarity with the series was limited to my few fumbly sessions playing it, and hearing about it from its LEGIONS of fans. The trailers and buzz, and the fact that it was written by Rhianna Pratchett all got me intensely excited.

So I budgeted some time and money, and on Tuesday the 5th I sat down in front of my 360 with my boyfriend, some snacks, and I went on an adventure.

It was AWESOME.

It’s everything the reviews are saying: gritty, exciting, challenging, fun, and very like Uncharted (haven’t played that, but I’m curious to now).

Overall, the game certainly had room for improvement: there is NO humor whatsoever, although considering the grim situation it’s understandable; there were fewer puzzles than I expected; there was a LOT more combat than I thought there would be. Even with those complaints, and really those were the only ones, the game is pretty awesome. I may have rushed through a lot of it just in my breathless excitement to get to the next level, and i fully intend to start a new game so I can go through at a more leisurely pace. I also suspect that now that the game is out and garnering such glowing praise and a lot of buzz, the sequel will be a little less… tense? Dutiful?

Reeeeeeeeeach!!!
Lara getting the bow early in the game, which I used as much as possible

While I loved the game, I am hoping the next installment has  the jaded, world-weary, somewhat arch and confident Lara that I’ve heard so much about. Since Rhianna Pratchett wrote it, and also wrote ANOTHER of my favorite games, the hilarious,and wonderfully warped Overlord series, I am pretty sure this will come to pass.

**POSSIBLE SPOILER**

I was also hoping for more of a supernatural feel to the game; while the storyline incorporates a lot of supernatural elements, you are mostly fighting the Solarii, a cult established by shipwreck survivors and lead by Mathias. Any women who wash up on the island are sacrificed or killed outright, I guess. You fight so many Solarii I started thinking that the game’s subtitle could have easily been ‘Escape from Bro Island.’ However, you do encounter some supernatural stuff much later on in the game.

**END SPOILER**

I enjoyed the game mostly because of Lara herself: homegirl gets MESSED. UP. in this game! I know that sounds weird, but as a woman myself, I identified with her character from the start, and seeing or hearing her hurt made me that much more cautious in my fighting style. It became personal, in other words, in a very different way than if the protagonist was male. Have I yelled and talked shit during the God of War series? LORD YES. After I died and respawned,  I’d go after some of those mythological monsters like their asses were made out of candy. 

One of the levels early on, I think
The environment is gloriously rendered and meticulously detailed; half the deaths I had in the game were because I was staring in fascinating at something in the background and fell off a ledge or something!

But with TR, it was different. I learned lessons a LOT faster in Tomb Raider, because Lara’s gruesome death scenes bothered me so much. Add to that the Solarii’s smugness after they kill her, which you can hear, and I was NOT going to make the same mistake again. That’s not to say that I blew through the game with minimal deaths– half the time I was my own worst enemy and would wander off the edge of cliffs, jump over railings to my doom, or blow myself up by walking into a room full of flammable gas with a lit torch. But! I did beat it, and I did manage to get lots of headshots on bad guys, as well as some pretty badass kills. So I was very pleased with  myself overall. I just hope to God there isn’t some kind of record that will tell me how many times I died– I’m pretty sure such a number would be expressed in scientific notation, and I’d be depressed.

What also drew me into the game was Lara’s attitude– at several points in the game when you’re doing something that looks impossible, she mutters self-encouragements. She’s justifiably frightened in a very frightening situation, but she’s just as frightened of letting her friends down, or letting them come to some of the harms that she’s already encountered. I found these little moments of vulnerability very emotionally engaging–people can only be brave when they’re frightened, after all.

Another interesting thing about the game was how much more emotionally involved my boyfriend was while spectating. He hated the death scenes and hearing the Solarii talking shit at Lara. He would flinch or gasp when something happened to her, much more so than he did when he watched me play Silent Hill: Downpour last year.

(Sidenote: The Solarii never say anything  sexually threatening,  just stuff about ‘kill the girl’ and ‘get the outsider’ and whatnot; I wondered about the reality of an island full of  violent men who never see women at all NOT threatening to do terrible things to her ladyparts; I then reasoned that they are religious zealots; plus, I figured the writers’ reasoning was ‘if she was male, they wouldn’t be threatening to rape her, so we will not have that in there;’ plus plus, that would have made the game much darker, and would have been a massive turnoff, and made it damn near unplayable for me).

The Tomb Raider reboot is a great refresh to an old, established brand, and I definitely look forward to playing more from the series. If you can pick it up, you should!