Blast http://blastmagazine.com A magazine for the discerning broke American Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:26:41 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.1.1 5 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy http://blastmagazine.com/2015/04/01/5-easy-ways-to-stay-healthy/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/04/01/5-easy-ways-to-stay-healthy/#comments Wed, 01 Apr 2015 15:26:41 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97050 Life is hectic. Who has time to go to the gym, cook delicious, well-balanced meals, and always get enough rest? Relax. You don’t have to make drastic changes to have a healthier life. Use these five tips to start feeling better now. Turn that Frown Upside Down Optimism is good for you! Having a positive […]

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Life is hectic. Who has time to go to the gym, cook delicious, well-balanced meals, and always get enough rest? Relax. You don’t have to make drastic changes to have a healthier life. Use these five tips to start feeling better now.

Turn that Frown Upside Down

Optimism is good for you! Having a positive outlook on life can boost your cardiovascular health. Plus, seeing the glass as half full will make you more likely to stick to new healthy routines. How can you shift your outlook to the sunshine?

  • Put things in perspective. Will the things you worry about today matter in five years? In ten?
  • Feed on positivity. If you’re always watching dark TV shows or one of your coworkers is a Debby downer, do your best to avoid those things and replace them with things that have a happier twist.
  • Set goals and reach them. The goals should be reasonable, but don’t be afraid to think big, either. Is that vacation you want really out of reach, or can you work for it?
  • Keep a journal. You don’t need to be William Shakespeare. Just jot down things that make you happy and reflect on them when you’re feeling blue.

Get Moving

You don’t have to spend two hours at the gym every morning to reap the benefits of exercise. Look for little opportunities to move. Park at the far end of the parking lot, choose the stairs over the elevator, and walk in place when you’re watching your favorite TV shows. An expert for Gaiam Life says, “Studies show that even 10 minutes of exercise makes a difference — so do something!”

Evaluate Your Eating Habits

Eating healthy is a challenge, especially if you’re always on the go. Try to have five small meals a day instead of three larger ones; this will rev up your metabolism and keep you feeling energetic. Also plan ahead, so you always have something to snack on that isn’t potato chips or a candy bar. Keep veggies, whole-grain crackers, and Fiber d’Lish fiber bars nearby so starvation won’t drive you to the nearest pizza joint.

Talk About It

When your co-workers and your family members chow down on their favorite junk foods, it is difficult to keep yourself on track. Inspire others by talking about your health goals. You don’t have to sound preachy; just show how enthusiastic you are. Even if others don’t follow your good example, talking about your decision to stay healthy will keep you accountable.

Stretch

An expert for Health.com says that if you grab your toes and pull, “This boosts circulation after your feet have been cramped in shoes all day. Without proper circulation, the muscles and nerves in our toes don’t work properly. And that can cause pain in your knees, hips, and back.”

Stretching has other perks, too. It will help prevent activity-based injuries, and it gives you a chance to breathe deep and relax your mind.

Staying healthy isn’t as tough as it seems at first glance. Make small adjustments that lead to healthy habits, and you’ll reap the benefits for decades to come.

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Earl Sweatshirt “I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside” Review http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/29/earl-sweatshirt-i-dont-like-shit-i-dont-go-outside-review/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/29/earl-sweatshirt-i-dont-like-shit-i-dont-go-outside-review/#comments Sun, 29 Mar 2015 21:50:02 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97044 A funny thing happened on the road to fame for Earl Sweatshirt. A member of Tyler the Creator’s anarchic rap group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, the teenager impressed off the bat in the 2010 music video for “Earl.” With his tongue-twisting, unsettling lyrics and street-hardened persona, the young rapper was a fascinating […]

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A funny thing happened on the road to fame for Earl Sweatshirt. A member of Tyler the Creator’s anarchic rap group Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All, the teenager impressed off the bat in the 2010 music video for “Earl.” With his tongue-twisting, unsettling lyrics and street-hardened persona, the young rapper was a fascinating new face. He seemed destined for the sort of name recognition Tyler currently enjoys.

Then, just as Odd Future was heating up, he dropped out of existence. Packed off to a Samoan boarding school by his mother, he sidestepped the spotlight he had only just stepped into. As Odd Future’s influence grew, his faded, and whether or not he’d ever feature on a major release again was unknown.

In 2012, Earl returned to the U.S., much to the euphoria of his fanbase. At first, he played into their perception of him as a rising rap god, primed to unleash both sonic prophecy and solemn self-reflection in a way no other Odd Future member was ever expected to.

“Chum,” the first single off his full-length debut Doris, was a breathtaking sample of Earl at his off-the-cuff best, openly discussing his absentee father, his feelings of alienation growing up (“too black for the white kids, and too white for the blacks/from honor roll to cracking locks up off them bicycle racks”) and the fractures in his personal life exacerbated by fame. It was exactly the kind of mesmerizing, messianic music that his fans had been waiting for. But then came that final line: “Been back a week and I already feel like calling it quits.”

He never asked for any of this, Earl was saying. Fame hadn’t only robbed him of his childhood. It had complicated his relationship with his mother, pushed him into darker lyrical territory than he wanted to go (remember, he was 15 while rapping about raping girls as part of Odd Future) and afforded him a noxious degree of public scrutiny. The spotlight had scorched him, and he was still smarting.

Fast-forward three years and I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside finds Earl’s contemplative reticence about celebrity expanded into full-blown reclusiveness. At 21, the rapper sounds scarily depressed and paranoid, as if something has validated his view of himself being against the world. The album is moody, downbeat and at times hazily nightmarish, a collection of ten songs (nine produced by Earl himself) most strongly linked by their sense of claustrophobia.

The album’s minimalism is also striking. Compared to Doris, there’s less of everything here, from guest stars to tonal variety to outside producers. For his sophomore album, Earl has withdrawn further into his shell. For many artists, that could be a death knell. But in removing any embellishments, Earl allows his music to speak for itself. And throughout, what he has to say is as gripping as it is gloomy.

On this sophomore album, the rapper deals with common problems for someone his age: smoking too much, staving off loneliness with a fistful of pills, hurting after a bad breakup, mourning the death of his grandmother. If I Don’t Like Shit, I Don’t Go Outside is to be believed, Earl has locked himself away from the world, preferring to dig deep into the corners of his own mind rather than engage with anyone else.

The wordplay is still front and center, of course. Earl bitterly spits out rhymes with a morose, almost sedate conviction, fighting to be heard over ambient, bass-heavy beats.

“Good grief, I been reaping what I sow / Nigga, I ain’t been outside in a minute / I been living what I wrote,” he raps on “Grief,” addressing his misery about life, death and the damnable ephemerality of it all. He’s lost in a fog, trying to get a grip on his priorities and ending up too exhausted to stand.

That kind of darkness permeates I Don’t Like Shit… at every turn. On “Mantra,” he articulates the problem with his kind of fame: “Now you surrounded with a gaggle of 100 fucking thousand kids / Who you can’t get mad at, when they want a pound & a pic / Cause they the reason that the traffic on the browser quick / And they the reason that the paper in your trousers thick.” And on “Off Top,” he unloads deep-seated anxieties about how he’s treated his mother over the years: “Trying to pay my momma rent, figure that’s just what I owe her / I been trouble since I tumbled out that stroller.”

As much as the album finds Earl sitting slumped on his couch, lethargic and fed up with everything outside his own four walls, the range of topics he delves into indicate that his mind has been far from sedentary. His battles with autonomy and assorted agonies of fame may be happening in a solitary, substance-fueled stupor, but that doesn’t make Earl’s incremental steps forward any less meaningful. When he raps about grief, regret, pain, loss and heartbreak, he’s wallowing, to be sure, but he’s also rebuilding.

The issues Earl is grappling with on this insular album are far from wide reaching. He’s not looking to make any grand statements about race and crime in America or unleash the next genre-redefining masterpiece. Instead, the Earl Sweatshirt on I Don’t Like Shit is reaching up his own sleeve, inside his own mind, trying to work things out and act his age. And though the tracks here are dark and dismal, the fact that they exist at all is evidence that he’s making progress.

In self-imposed exile from a world that forced him to grow up too fast, Earl is wresting back the controls and, behind closed doors, doing the tortured soul-searching he needs before he can become his own man.

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New 3D printer could be up to 100 times faster http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/27/new-3d-printer-could-be-up-to-100-times-faster/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/27/new-3d-printer-could-be-up-to-100-times-faster/#comments Sat, 28 Mar 2015 00:01:59 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97039 A new startup company, Carbon3D Inc., is claiming that they have developed a newer, advanced 3D printer that would use light and oxygen to produce and print solid objects, like other 3D printers, but speeds will be up to 25 to 100 times faster than what we currently have using photochemisty. Photochemistry is a branch of chemistry […]

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A new startup company, Carbon3D Inc., is claiming that they have developed a newer, advanced 3D printer that would use light and oxygen to produce and print solid objects, like other 3D printers, but speeds will be up to 25 to 100 times faster than what we currently have using photochemisty.

New3DPrinter

Photochemistry is a branch of chemistry concerned with the chemical effects of light. This practice is used as a chemical reaction caused by absorption of ultraviolet, visible light or infrared radiation.

According to gadgets.ndtv.com, the new printer “enables objects to rise from a liquid media continuously” and “creates previously unachievable geometries that open opportunities for innovation not only in health care and medicine, but also in other major industries such as automotive and aviation.”

The liquid is known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) and through this more materials are used to create a 3D image. Materials used are elastomers, silicones, nylon-like materials, ceramics and biodegradable materials.

Carbon3D Inc. has already produced a TEDTalk and been on the cover of Science. 

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New celebrity couple unfolds http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/27/new-celebrity-couple/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/27/new-celebrity-couple/#comments Fri, 27 Mar 2015 23:31:47 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97034 Among some of the weirdest celebrity couples are Tupac and Madonna, Danny Boyle and Rosario Dawson but a new couple has surfaced amidst these two strange couples on the list. Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes are apparently out on the dating scene – together. Holmes, 36, moved to Los Angeles with daughter, Suri, 8, in August […]

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Among some of the weirdest celebrity couples are Tupac and Madonna, Danny Boyle and Rosario Dawson but a new couple has surfaced amidst these two strange couples on the list. Jamie Foxx and Katie Holmes are apparently out on the dating scene – together.

Holmes, 36, moved to Los Angeles with daughter, Suri, 8, in August and appears to be spending quite a bit of time at Foxx’s house.

As of October 2013, Foxx, 47, denied such rumors that the two have become closer. But that was a while ago. According to People Magazine, “multiple sources confirm the pair have been spending time together for well over a year” but nothing is serious and the two are just having fun.

The two are nothing serious but it is said that Holmes will spend hours at a time at Foxx’s house and the two have been photographed together at a recording studio.

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There is no doubt that this relationship will become a high-profile relationship but for now the two are just hand-holding and taking it slow.

Foxx has two daughters, age 20 and six, with two different women he has kept confidential.

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Clogged! http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/clogged/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/clogged/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 15:56:17 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97024 One thing with fabulous fashion trends and styles is that they eventually repeat. Clogs are back this Spring with a solid wooden-heeled thunk! Marc Jacobs clogged up his Spring 2015 runway with color coordinated Dr. Scholl-esque shoes that are SO cute…ranging in price between $2000 – $2300, and selling out fast as per NYC boutique! Gold, Military […]

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One thing with fabulous fashion trends and styles is that they eventually repeat.

Clogs are back this Spring with a solid wooden-heeled thunk!

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Marc Jacobs clogged up his Spring 2015 runway with color coordinated Dr. Scholl-esque shoes that are SO cute…ranging in price between $2000 – $2300, and selling out fast as per NYC boutique!

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Gold, Military Green, Navy Blue, Velvet, Satin Twill and Suede – take your pick and stomp all over town owning that wooden statement!

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Gucci has a heeled version with all the stomping power needed to get through the day.

 

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Bits, leather and wood – yummy…and $850.

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Dr. Scholl (as in the original clog meister) still delivers a collection in plain and stripes!

Super duper delightful and budget loving at a modest $55 – seriously.

Whatever your spending limit, run like a little Dutch girl to pick up a pair of wooden clogs for Spring 2015!

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WITTI Little Lights http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/witti-little-lights/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/witti-little-lights/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:39:47 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97017 The definition of  witty is to be “amusingly clever in perception and expression”. WITTI, a California based tech & design firm is living up to the description. Art, design and function all meet at WITTI, a polygon obsessed company that creates products that are minimal in design and surprisingly busy in function! Polygonic, coined by […]

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The definition of  witty is to be “amusingly clever in perception and expression”.

WITTI, a California based tech & design firm is living up to the description.

Art, design and function all meet at WITTI, a polygon obsessed company that creates products that are minimal in design and surprisingly busy in function!

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Polygonic, coined by WITTI, describes their cool little cubes of intellect and light that combine mood lighting and alerts for incoming smart phone texts, emails and calls.

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DOTTI can be a clock, a game, a moving animated screen (hello throwback to space invaders!), play music off your smart phone and will even morph into the logo of FaceBook, Twitter or WhatsApp as a notification alert.  COOLxALOT!

 

DOTTI looks like a grown up version of Connect 4, and is loaded with activities, colors and sounds!

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NOTTI is a modern version of a LED lava lamp.  Mood lighting plus notification in a rainbow of color choices.

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The app allows you to synchronize with your NOTTI and personalize your alert color choices.

 

“With introduction of Notti and Dotti, our goal was to create unique smart solutions that combine mood lighting, design, and notifications into a minimal package with fine detailing,” said WITTI CEO, Alfred Wong. “Using smart design and unique shapes, we were able to develop products that become as much sculptural as functional.”

The simplicity of the design is surprisingly carried through to the price point (love that), DOTTI costs $79 and NOTTI costs $59.

 

 

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Early Access Spotlight: The Long Dark http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/early-access-spotlight-the-long-dark/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/early-access-spotlight-the-long-dark/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:11:57 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97006 First in a series of articles about Steam Early Access Titles. The Long Dark is a recent title to take the Early Access route on Steam where consumers get the opportunity to pick up the game and play through the alpha/beta before finally getting to play the full game on release. While the game is […]

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First in a series of articles about Steam Early Access Titles.

The Long Dark is a recent title to take the Early Access route on Steam where consumers get the opportunity to pick up the game and play through the alpha/beta before finally getting to play the full game on release. While the game is stated to be in an alpha state, it plays very much like a polished, fully made game. The Long Dark is one of many survival games to hit the Early Access scene, this game bringing a winter environment, a whole slew of implemented and to be implemented survival factors, varying modes of difficulty, and a stylistic cell-shade art style.

So, is The Long Dark just another dull survival game in a sea of poorly designed, often times abandoned to half-finished survival games, and games that want nothing more than to be Minecraft? Thankfully, no. The Long Dark takes the survival genre in a direction it has needed to go for years now and it’s a shame it couldn’t have come sooner. First and foremost, there is no crafting system for building new tools to survive. The only crafting you’ll be doing is salvaging parts to try and keep what little gear you have in one piece and that’s only if you make it long enough for your gear to break down in the first place.

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The Long Dark creates the perfect blend of challenge, wonder, and engaging gameplay that more games should try to match. Every second of gameplay matters, with the player needing to ration food, water, and whatever they can to stay warm, all while trying to gather supplies to make it through the next few hours, maybe even the next day. The roaring wind of the bitterly cold tundra only adds to the severity of your rapidly deteriorating stats, which your character will occasionally chime in to remind you that he is in fact starving/dehydrating/freezing to death, while growing more exhausted by the minute. Wolves roam the wilderness as the only menace that can rival the cold, as desperate as you are for food, though unlike them you don’t have the luxury of having a pelt or sharp teeth. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a gun before wolves find you. If you’re not so lucky, be prepared to run for your life and suffer the consequences.

You can be climbing a snowy mountaintop, being berated by a severe snowstorm, your body temperature quickly dropping and hypothermia begins to manifest within you and at the moment you reach the top of the mountain you pause. Before you is a world of striking colors and bold lines that only serve to make them more striking and off in the distance a yellow sun paints the sky orange, completely striping away the idea that at that very moment, you’re freezing to death. Shortly afterwards, you die and are reminded of why you wanted to get that mountain in the first place.

The Long Dark is a buoy in the sea of mediocrity that currently is the survival genre and we can only hope it stays that way as the developers continue to refine and polish it. Keep an eye out for it and consider picking it up before it fully releases and undergoes a price increase.

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My 5 Wishes for the New “X-Files” http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/my-5-wishes-for-the-new-x-files/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/25/my-5-wishes-for-the-new-x-files/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 04:20:42 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=97000 Photo Credit: entertainment-focus.com and FOX Broadcasting Company I may not have been born until the second season of “The X-Files” was well underway, but reruns and a lot of Netflix quickly turned me into a lifelong fan of the ’90s classic. I love almost everything about the dark and thought-provoking show, but I’ve never been satisfied with […]

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Photo Credit: entertainment-focus.com and FOX Broadcasting Company

I may not have been born until the second season of “The X-Files” was well underway, but reruns and a lot of Netflix quickly turned me into a lifelong fan of the ’90s classic. I love almost everything about the dark and thought-provoking show, but I’ve never been satisfied with how it all ended, so I was beyond thrilled when Fox announced today that “X-Files” will be returning for six episodes. In preparation for the event series, which Fox says will enter production this summer, I’ve jotted down my five dream wishes for the show’s future.

1. Aliens

Maybe this doesn’t even need to be here, ’cause I think we’re all on the same page, but if they’re going to drag Gillian Anderson, David Duchovny and I through this again after the disappointing “I Want to Believe”, we had best get some god damn aliens. I don’t know what ever possessed Chris Carter to make the show’s great comeback film about random terrestrial supernatural stuff, but can we please not do that again? I don’t care that most of the show’s episodes were Monster-of-the-Weeks. I want aliens in my “X-Files”!

2. For the Truth to Actually Be Out There This Time

The time for overwhelming ambiguity and plot lines that don’t go anywhere has past. If it does nothing else, this new season needs to actually explain what was going on with that myth arc. As any X-Phile knows, the show started off with a brilliantly constructed story that couldn’t maintain the same level of excellence going into the later seasons. This led to a lot of loose ends and spotty explanations for mysteries that were initially so compelling. This new season can finally give Carter’s brilliant arc the conclusion it deserves.

3. Samantha

This ties in with number two, but I think it’s entitled to its own spot on the list. “The X-Files” spent years giving us red herrings and clues in the mysterious search for Samantha Mulder, only to end it with a contradictory conclusion that satisfied absolutely no one and made about zero sense. The Samantha mystery was the viewer’s introduction to both Fox Mulder’s character arc and the alien story as a whole. It would be poetic and satisfying to, after so many years, bookend the story with some proper closure for Mulder and the audience.

4. Returning Favorites

“The X-Files” wasn’t exactly an ensemble show, but that doesn’t mean that Duchovny and Anderson are the only actors Fox needs to bring back. The big one for me is, of course, Mitch Pillegi. I’m hopeful because of his involvement in “I Want to Believe”. After all, Skinner may have started out as a menacing suit, but he turned into Mulder and Scully’s only true ally by the end of the series. Beyond Skinner, I’d love to see faces like the Cigarette-Smoking Man, Krycek or Maria. I know they’re all dead, but that hasn’t really stopped the show in the past. I’d even be down for a Doggett/Reyes cameo (I said CAMEO).

5. The Immortal Elephant in the Room

This one is probably a hopeless fantasy, and I can’t say I blame the show for never really tackling it. It presents a lot of complications and a very sad ending for the Mulder/Scully romance. However, an answer to the show’s most bizarre mystery, that of Scully’s possible immortality, would be a nice surprise. The implication was thrown in during my personal favorite X-Files episode, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose”, and almost completely ignored afterwords. Is she going to live forever? Am I the only one who is still caught up on this? Perhaps they could use it to explain why Anderson has aged, like, maybe five years since the show ended!

Do you agree with my list? What are your ideas for the new season? Leave a comment!

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Top 5 Underrated Dealership Offerings — Brought to You by Toyota http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/24/top-5-underrated-dealership-offerings-brought-to-you-by-toyota/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/24/top-5-underrated-dealership-offerings-brought-to-you-by-toyota/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:00:45 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96961 Cars have come a long way since their inception, from impressive new technologies to crazy efficient MPG.  Nonetheless, there isn’t a vehicle on the road that doesn’t need to be maintained and cared for to ensure it operates safely and efficiently.  While car manufacturers generally supply a maintenance schedule for new vehicles, it’s always good […]

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Cars have come a long way since their inception, from impressive new technologies to crazy efficient MPG.  Nonetheless, there isn’t a vehicle on the road that doesn’t need to be maintained and cared for to ensure it operates safely and efficiently.  While car manufacturers generally supply a maintenance schedule for new vehicles, it’s always good to know some of the underrated services that can help keep older (and newer) cars working and functioning to the best of their ability.

Here are 5 “Underrated” car services:

A/C Recharging:

You’ve loaded up all your favorite playlists and your cooler is packed with all your summertime favorites to keep you cool & refreshed in the hot, afternoon heat. Thirty minutes into the drive, you realize you’re sweating and your AC vents are blowing out hot & stale air. There are many pieces that keep the AC system functioning, and each piece of this complex puzzle can be a reason for failure – from the condenser, to the filter, to the multiple wires and connections.  This service is not as simple as recharging the refrigerant, but involves testing the system for loose components, leaks & other damaged components.  It is best to keep this system working properly BEFORE your beautiful summer day turns into an uncomfortable sweaty mess!

Winter Tires:

This winter has been one of the cruelest for many parts of the US.  The folks on the east coast seem to be in major need of Vitamin D from being stuck indoors while they are pounded by inches upon inches of snow.  When the snow lets up, we’ll all need to get back to our everyday lives, which means getting back on the roads.  Making sure your car has tires that have the grip and control needed to navigate through the snow, sleet, ice and slush not only creates a better driving experience; it also improves your traction, grip, and even braking.

Alignment:

Alignment is definitely one of the most underrated services you can have done for your car. When was the last time you were in a city where every street, road, freeway, or highway was completely smooth as if it were just paved?  Potholes, cracks, uneven pavement, and many other conditions of a road can slowly affect a vehicle’s alignment.  It’s not a fun experience when you find your car veering off to the left or right when the wheel should stay centered.  We recommend this underrated service be done every 12,000 miles.  Proper alignment can help prolong your tire life, help boost your MPG’s and even reduce wear on your steering system.

Braking System Evaluation:

If we break a car’s function into 2 simple operational stages, we have start and stop.  Let’s focus on the ‘stop’ part of this for a moment.  If your steering wheel shakes when you brake, you are in need of brake service.  If you hear a screeching sound coming to a stop, you are in need of brake service.  If your brakes are soft and “fluffy” when you brake, you guessed it; you are in need of brake service.  We find this to be underrated given that you can easily have your brakes evaluated, usually in a matter of minutes.  Just like the other major systems in your car, the braking system is complex and has many parts and pieces, from cylinders, to brake pads, rotors, and of course, the ever important brake fluid. Be sure to have your brakes evaluated regularly to avoid finding yourself in a situation where you are unable to stop your vehicle properly in an emergency situation.

Fluids, filters, and wipers, oh my!

Some people have the knowledge to install and replace these components themselves (ideally using parts from the OEM that made your car).  That said, the majority of people don’t have the time or know-how to be able to address these vital pieces to the proper function of their car.  From automatic transmission fluid, to coolant, to windshield-wiper fluid; cars require several fluids to maintain their proper performance.  Filters, just like in your coffee machine, are extremely important. Imagine the sludge that the coffee filter catches ending up into your engine and its systems; or worse, nothing getting through at all because they are clogged and ineffective.  Air filters & fluids should be routinely checked and replaced regularly. Being able to see clearly is essential to a safe & enjoyable driving experience. The moment you find your windshield wipers not being able to clear your windshield of water, dirt, and other obstructions, do yourself a favor and get them replaced!

Check out the video below to see how you can keep your Toyota a Toyota.

For more information, visit: http://www.toyota.com/owners/web/pages/parts-service.

Happy & Safe Driving!

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Rock Bassist Andy Fraser Dead at 62 http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/23/rock-bassist-andy-fraser-dead-at-62/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/23/rock-bassist-andy-fraser-dead-at-62/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 21:07:09 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96997 The music world lost an icon when rock bassist Andy Fraser passed away on March 16 at the age of 62. Fraser, a native of London, was born with a wealth of musical talent. He began training in piano classically at the age of five, and subsequently switched to guitar when he turned twelve. He […]

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The music world lost an icon when rock bassist Andy Fraser passed away on March 16 at the age of 62. Fraser, a native of London, was born with a wealth of musical talent. He began training in piano classically at the age of five, and subsequently switched to guitar when he turned twelve. He started playing in clubs in London’s East End after being expelled from school as a teen.

It was there that he gained the attention of English blues legend John Mayall, frontman of influential blues band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. That group, which Fraser played with for a brief period of time, was a breeding ground for rock legends like Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, Mick Fleetwood, and Mick Taylor. After playing bass with the Bluesbreakers, Fraser, then only 15, formed the blues rock band Free. Along with lead singer Paul Rodgers, lead guitarist Paul Kossoff, and drummer Simon Kirke, Fraser led Free to become one of the biggest-selling British blues rock groups. Fraser penned Free’s biggest hit, “All Right Now”, which charted at No. 2 in the UK and No. 4 in the US. In 1990, the single hit a million radio plays in the US, and surpassed the 2 million mark a decade later.

In his post-Free career, Fraser formed the band Sharks, and also spent time songwriting for artists such as Rod Stewart, Robert Palmer, and Joe Cocker. In his recent years, Fraser contributed a song to the presidential campaign of Barack Obama.

Fraser passed away at his home in California. He leaves two daughters, Hannah and Jasmine, who were both present at the time of his death.

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Marvel Heroes to Combine for Mobile Gaming Platforms http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/21/marvel-heroes-to-combine-for-mobile-gaming-platforms/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/21/marvel-heroes-to-combine-for-mobile-gaming-platforms/#comments Sat, 21 Mar 2015 16:09:58 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96990 If there is one modern studio brand that stands for innovation, it is the outstanding Marvel Entertainment. This group has hit the headlines again recently, by partnering with mobile game developer DeNA to unveil the Marvel Mighty Heros and what is being referred to as a ‘real-time co-op brawler’. This game features the many heroes […]

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If there is one modern studio brand that stands for innovation, it is the outstanding Marvel Entertainment. This group has hit the headlines again recently, by partnering with mobile game developer DeNA to unveil the Marvel Mighty Heros and what is being referred to as a ‘real-time co-op brawler’.

This game features the many heroes and villains of Marvel Universe, and it is expected to launch imminently on iOS and Android devices. This title is highly anticipated in the gaming community, where players will be able to choose from the diverse group of Marvel characters and create their own unique dream-team of heroes, anti-heroes and downright villains.

What can Gamers Expect from the Marvel Mighty Heroes?

The available characters include a number of Marvel’s stellar cast, including Iron Man, Groot, Captain America, Star-Lord, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Spider-Man. Alongside this gallery of heroes sits their allies and arch nemeses, and it is the players task to select their ultimate team of iconic characters and do battle with them. With its depth and diversity, this title elevates the Marvel gaming experience beyond already impressive offerings like the popular Spiderman Slots, and successful PS4 Games.

Another important point to note is that each character has their own skill-set and special abilities, which have been developed in line with their unique narrative. As a player you can benefit from this through the highly engaging and interactive multiplayer feature, which is accessible online and enables participants to compete against one another in the quest for honours. In this respect, this mobile game offers the ideal balance between console gaming and real-time, online connectivity.

The Bottom Line

There is more good news in the fact that this title will be free to play when it launches on both iOS and Android so gamers can enjoy the best of the market without being forced to spend their hard earned cash.

If you cannot wait for the launch (which is scheduled for release later in the year), you can at least visit the games’ recently launched website and vote to receive either the Hulk or Rocket Raccoon as a free special hero at launch.

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Cover Story: Batgirl, The Killing Joke and Artistic Integrity http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/20/cover-story-batgirl-the-killing-joke-and-artistic-integrity/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/20/cover-story-batgirl-the-killing-joke-and-artistic-integrity/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 05:30:30 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96984 Photo credit: bloody-disgusting.com Batgirl has been showing up a lot in the news lately, starting last summer when her redesigned costume started what is becoming a trend of more practical, action-oriented costumes for female superheroes and a cast that included a transgender friend for Barbara Gordon. The title then lost some of its new fan […]

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Photo credit: bloody-disgusting.com

Batgirl has been showing up a lot in the news lately, starting last summer when her redesigned costume started what is becoming a trend of more practical, action-oriented costumes for female superheroes and a cast that included a transgender friend for Barbara Gordon. The title then lost some of its new fan base when the villain Dagger Type was portrayed as a glam-obsessed cross-dresser who many found to be stereotyped and a step back for the title.

Now, the title has caused controversy over both the reveal and subsequent cancellation of a variant cover by artist Rafael Albuquerque that pays tribute to Alan Moore’s iconic story “The Killing Joke”. The story famously starts with the Joker shooting Barbara Gordon, causing her paralysis and having her retiring the Batgirl mantle and take up the role of Oracle. When DC relaunched many of its series in “The New 52″, Gordon’s paralysis was retconned to be temporary with her taking up the role of Batgirl once again. “Batgirl #41″ featured, as part of a celebration of the Joker’s 75th anniversary, a variant cover depicting the Joker in his famous “Killing Joke” tourist outfit painting a red smile across the crying Batgirl’s face. The cover drew controversy as fans used #changethecover on Twitter to express their dislike of the variant. At the request of Albuquerque and the creative team behind “Batgirl”, the cover was pulled by DC. This has created its own controversy, with some saying the move is akin to censorship and marks a lack of artistic integrity on DC’s part.

Love and respect of “The Killing Joke” is obvious among a large number of comic book fans. A combination of its iconic imagery and the fact that it was written by Alan Moore has made it sacred ground in a lot of people’s eyes. It is also arguably the most famous story in which Barbara Gordon plays a major role. The problem with this, however, is that Gordon’s role in “The Killing Joke” is to be shot, stripped, and photographed as part of a plot to push her father into insanity. While this does an excellent job of reestablishing the Joker’s nature while strengthening the resolve of Jim Gordon and Batman when they refuse to kill the Joker for what he did, Barbara is left as a victim of the events.

Present day Batgirl has become an important figure in the current wave of comics. Her look has inspired the remake of several female superhero looks such as Spider-Woman, Spider-Gwen and Wonder Woman. The title became popular under the authorship of Gail Simone, a fantastic author and strong voice for the strengthening of female characters in comics. She could be said to be one of the new standards for what comics are becoming. On the other hand, “The Killing Joke” is secured as a classic. It has held against retcons, changing attitudes, and has been reprinted a number of times throughout the years.  It is solidified, while this version of Batgirl is still developing. So when the fans of the comic say they don’t want to see Barbara Gordon in the position that the variant cover put her in and Rafael Albuquerque agrees to pull it, there is no artistic corruption. On the contrary, it is a statement that this iteration of the character has her own identity and wants itself separated from Moore’s ideas. Looking at it another way, isn’t it more jaded and artistically unsound to use a previous story’s success to sell your own?

Or, as head of writer of “Batgirl” Cameron Stewart said on Twitter, “If you’re concerned about artistic integrity and creative vision, that’s what we’re doing. Keeping the integrity of our book intact.”

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5 Flaws to Watch Out for in Pisces this March http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/19/5-flaws-to-watch-out-for-in-pisces-this-march/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/19/5-flaws-to-watch-out-for-in-pisces-this-march/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 02:08:22 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96944 Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org 1. They take shit way too personal. The reason behind this annoying habit is because Pisces feel everything on another level. Since they are so in tune with all their emotions (they’re often joked about as being too emotional) they tend to have difficulty differentiating when things should and shouldn’t offend them. My […]

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Photo credit: commons.wikimedia.org

1. They take shit way too personal. The reason behind this annoying

habit is because Pisces feel everything on another level. Since they are

so in tune with all their emotions (they’re often joked about as being too

emotional) they tend to have difficulty differentiating when

things should and shouldn’t offend them. My best advice- if the person

saying it does not know you personally, then do not take it personally.

 

 

2. They hold grudges like no others. Pisces are funny; they are fast to

forgive but even faster to remember past events and throw it in your

face during an argument or when justifying a scenario. Friends can’t help

but love Pisces because usually the good traits outweigh the bad traits.

 

 

3. Pisces are roller coasters. This is where I’m talking emotional. Whether

it be good or bad emotions, they freaking diarrhea out from their heart

like a lemonade pitcher on a hot Florida day. Also, they tend to expect

others to share their exact emotion. For example, if a Pisces just got a

new job and it’s a big freaking deal, they tell the people they love

most and expect that person to be just as excited for their good news.

If the person on the other end is excited and fails to show the

excitement, the Pisces WILL question the behavior in their mind for

hours later. “Why wasn’t she so happy?” The Pisces overlooks the

reality that this person was at work, still took their call, and couldn’t

jump and scream. Calm down, Pisces. Calm down.

 

 

4. Ever heard of black or white? Well, Pisces fail to see gray. There is

little gray. Not 50 shades, not 1 shade. It’s black or white. Pisces love

to commit to things and people; once this is done, they are all in, or

never in. There is no “sort of” in their worlds. This can be great or this

can be awful. This also leads me to how Pisces are amazing

lovers when you’re on their good side, but horrible devils when you’ve

somehow gotten on their bad side. In Pisces defense, to get onto their

bad side takes some work. They aren’t quick to toss people out. The

wrongdoer must do some horrible shit to hurt or betray the Pisces,

but once that act is done, be aware, the Pisces are like snakes in the

water. They wait to attack. Where others would seek revenge and

thrive, the Pisces waits and waits, building a horrible plan of hurting

this person who hurt them first. It could be months away, maybe on

the wrongdoer’s birthday, but they will get what’s coming. Not all

Pisces are this extreme. Some just need to envision revenge and they

are satisfied.

 

 

5. Finally, Pisces are some clingy mother-effers. They want to be around

the ones they love all the time. It can become overwhelming. It is

innocent. They just love to love and want to show everyone who

means something to them how much they mean to them….every

single day. It becomes a bit hard to handle if you are someone rather

detached and not used to this kind of love. Accept their love and

showering of emotions, but just don’t forget to say thank you or make

the Pisces feel appreciated. If the Pisces feels unappreciated enough

times….well, refer to number 4. Hehehe.

 

Yes, I am a Pisces. If you know a Pisces, comment below or share with

others!

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Corky Gainsford: The Blast interview http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/18/corky-gainsford-the-blast-interview/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/18/corky-gainsford-the-blast-interview/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 21:41:08 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96966 Before their show at Brighton Music Hall last Wednesday, Corky Gainsford, the drummer for Otherwise, sat down with Blast’s Madeline Knutson to discuss the group’s progression over the last decade. Hailing from Las Vegas, Otherwise has five members: Gainsford, Adrian Patrick, Ryan Patrick, Tony Carboney, and Andrew Pugh. Their most recent album, Peace At All […]

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Before their show at Brighton Music Hall last Wednesday, Corky Gainsford, the drummer for Otherwise, sat down with Blast’s Madeline Knutson to discuss the group’s progression over the last decade. Hailing from Las Vegas, Otherwise has five members: Gainsford, Adrian Patrick, Ryan Patrick, Tony Carboney, and Andrew Pugh. Their most recent album, Peace At All Costs, was released in September and they are currently on a U.S. tour.

Blast: Otherwise has been together in some form for almost a decade now. How did the band first begin their musical journey?

Gainsford: This particular group of guys has been collected over a large number of years. Adrian [Patrick] started the band back in late 2005/early 2006 and his brother Ryan [Patrick] had to audition because he was still in high school. I joined at the end of 2010, which was right after Adrian and Ryan had done Mayhem Fest. They went around the country in a minivan following in the moment so Adrian could sing one song on stage over the course of several months. When I joined, it was right at the end of that version of the band when they were kind of regrouping because most of the band had quit due to not wanting to wait around.

The following year (2011), we wrote a lot of music. “Soldiers” and “Apologize” came out of that, as well as a lot of what was on the first record. Andrew [Pugh] joined in the middle of 2012 as our sound guy, and a few months later moved to guitar player. Tony [Carboney] became our bass player a few months ago. He’s an old friend of mine that I have done a ton of gigs with in Las Vegas. The two of us have played all sorts of stuff throughout Vegas, from cover bands to original groups. When we needed a bass player recently, he was the dude who popped up in my head. He wanted to hit the road with us and it’s been great ever since.

Blast: “Soldiers” has become an increasingly popular song. How does it feel to have people know all the lyrics and sing the words with you at your shows?  

Gainsford: It feels great. We wrote the song in our garage when we were unsigned and we never thought that anyone would ever hear it. It’s a really special experience for us because we know where that song has come from and what it has become now to both the fans and us. We close with that song every show because of how significant it is to us.

Blast: Do you think that being from Las Vegas brought any specific struggles that you wouldn’t have faced elsewhere? 

Gainsford: It’s definitely a different experience. In Vegas, there’s marquee stadium-selling acts or bands down the street in a run-down club trying to gain some recognition. It’s a pretty hard sell to get people to your shows. Also, you are out in the desert away from other cities, so it’s a very isolated area. The closest real towns are LA, which is 4 to 5 hours away, Phoenix, which is 6 hours away, or Reno, which is 8 hours away. You have to seriously commit to get to other cities. That was always a struggle, but ultimately, 4 to 5 hours is not horrible. Before we were signed, we were going back and forth between LA and Vegas. We kept thinking that was what would get us signed, but it ended up happening from a radio station playing our song. It had nothing to do with going to LA whatsoever.

Blast: Your first major album True Love Never Dies was very well received by the public and gained a much larger fan base for you. What was the creative process like with your second album, Peace At All Costs?

Gainsford: I think that everyone was worried a little bit. Time after time, a band’s second record is a difficult one to pull off well. You have your whole career to create your first record, but you only have a few months for the second one. We try to write every day on the road, but it’s a really difficult thing to do because you get in a very specific day-to-day routine. There is very little time to really dive into the writing process and dig into it well. When we got off the road, we took a week off and then went straight into writing sessions.

For this record, we gathered our friends and people recommended by our friends. We specifically wrote with other people to try to get us out of our comfort zone. We thought one of the worst things we could do was to try to write a record that was very similar to the first. We wanted to branch out dynamically and try to find the things that we did well on our first album and expand on them. When we started writing with some of these people, they would come in with preconceived notions thinking that we wanted to write a record like the first one. We had to tell them that we were working with other people to do the opposite of that. We ended up writing almost 30 songs and then picked the best 11 or 12 that fit together and also showed growth. Most of the songs were brand new and written right after we got off the road, but two of them came from demos that we had done years before we got signed. “Never Say” was a song we played live back in 2011 that didn’t make the first record. We ended up restructuring it for this record, as well as “Man on Fire,” which was a demo that had been sitting around since 2010. We thought that on the second record, we could show growth in musicianship and songwriting.

Blast: Speaking of Peace At All Costs, how did you come up with the title and which tracks on that album do you think are most representative of the record’s message?

Gainsford: It is a tattoo right across Adrian’s neck and it is a saying that his grandmother used to yell at the family when they were fighting back in the day. Adrian and Ryan went through a lot of struggles when we were working on the first record. They lost a very important family member right before we got signed. It was a difficult process for them because they went through the largest amount of grief in their life, while also accomplishing the one and only goal they had been striving to achieve for the last six years. Mentally, the first record and touring cycle was really tough. The goal with the second record was to bring some clarity and peace to everyone’s lives and move forward. It has worked in many ways.

Touring off the second record has been a much smoother process. We are much more familiar with everything, we are playing clubs we have been to before, and there are more people in the audience that know our songs. The growth and progression has been obvious. For Adrian and Ryan, they are getting to the other side of their grieving process. Adrian now has a newborn child that is a few months old, so he has this little bundle of joy that is helping him realize that things are so much larger than his center of being in terms of his scope on the world. I have a 5 and a 7 year old, so I’ve been trying to catch him up to speed on that but now he’s there.

There are two tracks on this record that describe our message. The first would be “Love and War” because it highlights the struggle between, like the title says, love and war. Our band’s message is about seeing the light through the darkness and getting through your struggle to the other side. “Meet Me in the Dark” also expresses that message very clearly. It’s almost like a love song in a certain sense, because it’s about taking someone’s hand in the dark and getting through to the light together. They are almost bookended on the album and they both encapsulate those feelings.

Blast: Otherwise has played in a bunch of different cities on this tour and the last one. Out of all of them, what has been your favorite?

Gainsford: It’s a difficult question to answer because some of the coolest cities to visit are not necessarily the coolest cities to play in or vice versa. One of our favorite clubs to play in is The Machine Shop in Flint, Michigan. When you go to Flint, there’s nothing really to do around there, but there’s a great radio station and rock club. That’s what we see. When you are on the road, unless you find time to do something or have a day off, you only get to see the parking lot, the rock club, and the freeway going to and from. Today was cool because we stumbled into a music shop down the street, which we didn’t know was there. Even if you are early though, most of the time, we are visiting a radio station before sound check. The cities aren’t the same for bands as they are for the general public because most of what a city has to offer, we don’t actually get to see. The show is what we came for, so it’s the most important part of the night. Our show a couple days ago in Lancaster was awesome. It was like a three story club and every story was packed, plus there was a ton of people at merch after the show. I don’t know what there is to do in Lancaster but the show was really cool.

Blast: I have to ask, being from Las Vegas, what is your favorite casino?

Gainsford: I love the Hard Rock because the pool is awesome, the music is awesome, the vibe is awesome, and the memorabilia is amazing. I love The Joint, which is the big club they have there. It used to be a terrible sounding room but they completely rebuilt it and now it’s a great place to play. They also have a small club there called Vinyl, which is fun to go to. If we were ever going to hang at any casino, which you rarely ever do in Las Vegas, that’s a good spot. Mandalay Bay is also a favorite because of the Foundation Room and the House of Blues.

Be sure to follow Otherwise on Twitter at @WEareOTHERWISE and check out their most recent album Peace At All Costs on ITunes and Spotify.

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Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number review http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/18/hotline-miami-2-wrong-number-review/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/18/hotline-miami-2-wrong-number-review/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 13:02:03 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96955 Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is the second and final game in the Hotline Miami series, bringing us a definitive ending the the ultra violent retro-styled rogue-like. And it was good. Hotline Miami 2 takes everything great about the first and expands on it greatly while making sure that it’s its own game. It’s a […]

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Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number is the second and final game in the Hotline Miami series, bringing us a definitive ending the the ultra violent retro-styled rogue-like. And it was good.

Hotline Miami 2 takes everything great about the first and expands on it greatly while making sure that it’s its own game. It’s a game that is honest with what itself, with intense violence, a wonderfully bewildering story, and plenty of horrific breakings of the fourth wall where we get to reconvene with Richard from the previous game. Just like its predecessor it continues on with the frenetic high action brutally difficult combat with plenty of flair between different ‘masks’ or in this game’s case: characters. It Wrong Number you will die, and you will die again. And again. And again. And it is exhilarating every step of the way.

Continuing off of the first game, where you went through level after level slaughtering an army of Russian gangsters as Jacket and then Biker, Wrong Number picks up on a whole new tone. The title screen is somber and lacks the drug haze that the original seemed to be going for, the first mission following closely behind in the new change. After playing one of the new characters and committing a vulgar act, we learn of the fate of Jacket. Jacket is now something of a vigilante hero and is on trial for his crimes while in his place appear a copycat killer, a group of fans, a man looking to write a book on the events, the late Russian mob boss’s son, and a movie star. Masks are a thing of the past and now we get to play different characters when doing missions for the fans, while the other characters generally have a small variety in which they can approach missions.

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It’s easy to get lost in this game, it’s heart pumping soundtrack making every attempt to get that score multiplier just a little bit higher with every death all the more thrilling. The non-linear story where we’re left to the morals of this drug and nightmare fueled world where anyone and everyone can die, all while being subject to the sadistic game devs, only adds to the glorious spectacle that Hotline Miami 2 produces.

Wrong Number does however bring along all of the first’s problems, going as far as to exacerbate them in certain areas. It’s incredibly easy to lose track of weapons and pick up the wrong tool which can be incredibly frustrating as it breaks combos and kills players, especially with new enemies that demand specific weapons to be used against them. In addition to that is being killed by enemies off screen, which only becomes a larger problem in Wrong Number where levels are much larger and more open making this a much more frequent occurrence. There’s also the occasional bug with enemies hitting you through corners around doors or dogs getting stuck in a walk path and beginning to spin in place, which can completely throw off a run.

Wrong Number is a celebration of video game violence and both an incredibly challenging and fun game that deserves to be checked out by fans of all gaming genres. It’s exactly what a sequel should strive to be.

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number review
Sounds
Visuals
Story
Gameplay
Lasting Appeal
What Worked
  • The story
  • The awesome soundtrack
  • New gameplay elements
What didn't work
  • Buggy at times
  • Lack of interface
  • Lack of masks
4.3Overall Score
Reader Rating: (1 Vote)

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Interview: “Lentil Underground” aims to save family farms http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/17/interview-lentil-underground-aims-to-save-family-farms/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/17/interview-lentil-underground-aims-to-save-family-farms/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 19:25:28 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96951 As farmers around the country are being pressured to adopt corporate techniques for growing unsustainable crops, a group of about 20 Montana farmers has pursued an alternative: organic lentils. Lentils naturally produce nitrogen to fertilize the soil, do not require the use of chemical pesticides and require little to no watering. This group of farmers now […]

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liz carlisleAs farmers around the country are being pressured to adopt corporate techniques for growing unsustainable crops, a group of about 20 Montana farmers has pursued an alternative: organic lentils. Lentils naturally produce nitrogen to fertilize the soil, do not require the use of chemical pesticides and require little to no watering. This group of farmers now sells their crops under the brand name “Timeless Seeds,” to gourmet restaurants and health food stores around the country. Author Liz Carlisle documented their story in her book, “The Lentil Underground,” released January 22. Carlisle is a former legislative aid to Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT), holds a Ph.D in geography from the University of California, Berkley and is a fellow at the Center for Diversified Farm Systems at the same university.

BLAST: Why did you decide to start the Lentil Underground project?

LIZ CARLISLE: I was really inspired by this group of farmers in Montana who decided they didn’t want to farm industrially and were willing to spend 30 years to carry out an alterative.

BLAST: You grew up in Montana right? Was farming a part of your childhood?

LC: Yeah, I’m from Missoula.

My grandmother was a farmer and her family lost her farm in the dustbowl so I didn’t grow up on a farm but that experience was really impactful for her and she spoke a lot about how it affected her. About how much she loved farming and how to not repeat those mistakes… I felt she had a certain wisdom from having worked with plants and animals so closely. Some of us are so removed from the natural world and I felt like she knew more about her place in life from that work.

BLAST: How did you first find out about the Oien family?

LC: The first time I heard about David Oien was when I was working for Senator Jon Tester who was an organic farmer from Montana. I was working in his DC office so I would hear from people in Montana about their ideas on policy and I realized he was not alone and that there were many other alternative farmers. And, one of the people I heard about was David Oien who had taught a lot of people about lentils, and the benefits of farming them.

BLAST: Why do you call it the Lentil Underground? I understand the lentil part, but where did the underground part come from?

LC: The Lentil Underground is an underground in two senses Firstly, I wanted to call attention to what is going on underground for the plants – how the lentils are working with the soil and how they are producing natural nitrogen fertilizers. But it is also a social underground. Sometimes we think it is just businesses who innovate new strategies but in fact it is all about the people that are making it possible.

BLAST: Were you a lentil enthusiast before starting work on this project?

LC: I had definitely eaten lentils but I had no idea my life was going to be so thoroughly entwined with lentils… I realized I will spend much of this year eating lentils, and I am not upset about that!

lentil underground coverBLAST: On that note, what is your favorite thing to do with lentils?

LC: My favorite lentil dish is an Ethiopian dish. It’s really simple but delicious. It’s called Messer Wot. You basically stew onions in Ethiopian spices and then mix in the lentils. I first had it at a restaurant here in the Bay Area and have been pretty much addicted since.

BLAST: If people come away from reading your book with one message, what do you want that to be?

LC: I hope people come away from this book understanding the importance of working together in communities rather than taking a sort of rugged individualist approach to success. Lentils work together in a community to make nutrients that they share with the crops that come after and the farmers work together as well… I hope people understand how critical it is for us to embrace our interdependence in order to respond to challenges like climate change.

BLAST: How were you able to manage working towards a Ph.D while also writing a book?

LC: I did this research as a Ph.D student in geography at UC Berkeley so the research was the same it was just two different pieces of writing. I wrote the book for a general audience and wrote the dissertation as three articles that focus on the more nity-gritty technical aspects.

BLAST: Now that the book is out, and you are getting your Ph.D, what is your next plan?

LC: Both of my parents and all four grandparents were educators and I’m excited to teach college students.

BLAST: I saw that you worked as a legislative correspondent. Do you ever consider going back into politics?

LC: I don’t think I will ever run for elected office and I don’t imagine I will have a directly political job but I was inspired to do that work to be civically active, and I think that is really important. Social movements and Civic activism is really the center of our political life, so write those letters to your representatives, and sign petitions and everything. I think I will always be really active in that way.

BLAST: You had to talk to a lot of farmers for this book who probably weren’t really used to being interviewed, how did that go? Were they all open and willing to talk?

LC: I think throughout the research process I just tried to be human and interact with people on that level and I was so curious and had a lot of respect for what they were doing. I think because I approached people with that respect, curiosity and passion, they were really willing to open themselves up and they were very generous.

BLAST: If you had to predict, where do you think the alternative farming movement will go in the next five years?

LC: I think we’re going to need policy change to scale up production because it is still structured as a niche market. It still relies on affluent consumers so it sort of requires that there is an alternative to compete against.

I think we need to start to regulate the entire food system so we stop having this niche market for organic food and stop growing crops with too many chemicals anywhere.

BLAST: Finally, you have one sentence to convince people to read your book. What is it?  

LC: The future of the food is more fun than you think.

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Tsarnaev Trial Sheds Light on Officer Sean Collier’s Life, Work http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/17/tsarnaev-trial-sheds-light-on-officer-sean-colliers-life/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/17/tsarnaev-trial-sheds-light-on-officer-sean-colliers-life/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 18:14:00 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96939 Sam Haas reported from the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in South Boston. In the moments after Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev murdered MIT police officer Sean Collier, a graduate student rode his bike past Collier’s cruiser and noticed a strange silhouette leaning into the open driver’s side door. The silhouette, startled, jerked upright—and locked […]

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Sam Haas reported from the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in South Boston.

Collier_LincolnIn the moments after Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev murdered MIT police officer Sean Collier, a graduate student rode his bike past Collier’s cruiser and noticed a strange silhouette leaning into the open driver’s side door. The silhouette, startled, jerked upright—and locked eyes with the biker.

Nate Harman, a 24-year-old mathematics student, told this story publicly for the first time Wednesday at John Joseph Moakley Courthouse, testifying in the ongoing United States vs. Dzokhar A. Tsarnaev case. Tsarnaev is on trial for charges related to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings that killed three people and the subsequent shooting of Collier.

His hand shaking at one point as he poured a glass of water, Harman told the court he had initially thought nothing of the incident.

“I just laughed, actually,” said Harman, surprised that he had spooked the mystery figure merely by pedaling behind him.

It was only later that Harman realized the full gravity of what—and who—he had seen.

When asked by prosecutor Bill Weinreb if he’d seen the person whose startled gaze he had met two years ago, Harman pointed at the defendant seated 15 feet in front of him.

“He’s right there,” said Harman as Tsarnaev leaned forward, almost obligingly. “He has a blue shirt on.”

Harman’s testimony followed the accounts of several police officers who were working the night of Collier’s April 18 murder. MIT police Chief John DiFava, Sgt. Clarence Henniger, MIT’s surveillance video manager Matthew Isgur and others recounted their actions that night.

Radio calls, surveillance tapes and the witnesses’ collective memories, shared with the courtroom on Wednesday, illustrated the events that took place that Thursday night in April.

Collier’s work began at 3:15 p.m. with roll call, said MIT officer David Sacco, who worked dispatch for the department that night. The two men were often on duty together for the 3-11 p.m. shift.

plaque“I knew him since he was hired,” Sacco testified. “I got to know him real well.”

DiFava hired Collier in January 2012, after Collier graduated from municipal police officer training at the MBTA Transit Police Academy. Before joining the MIT department, Collier was a special officer for the Lincoln police department for two years beginning in February, 2011. He also worked as a summer officer for the Hull police department from 2008 to 2010 and as an information technology civilian employee for the Somerville police.

According to former bosses, colleagues and friends, Collier’s perseverance and work ethic represented his long-held desire to be a police officer.

“He was very reliable, very dependable,” said Lincoln police Chief Kevin Kennedy Thursday. “He clearly wanted to help people, and you could tell it.”

Collier’s role in MIT’s department, Kennedy said, was a job he held with pride and performed with enthusiasm.

After 3:15 roll call on April 18, Collier began patrolling his assigned sector by cruiser. The evening and beginning of the night passed uneventfully. At one point, Sacco and Collier exchanged a series of text messages about a woman who was upset that her car had been towed.

DiFava left the police department after 9 p.m. Driving home, he saw Collier’s black and white cruiser, emblazoned with “MIT Police,” on Vassar Street, at the edge of campus.

DiFava stopped to chat for a few minutes before continuing toward home. As he recounted the last words he said to Collier, many people in the courtroom were visibly affected by his testimony and tone of voice.

His parting advice to Collier: “Be safe.”

Sometime after DiFava left, around 10:20, Henniger was returning to the station from his patrol. As he rolled down Main Street, he spied Collier parked between MIT’s Koch Institute and Stata Center, near the corner of Vassar and Main. Henniger, a veteran police officer who graduated from the Quincy police academy in 1974, served as mentor, guide and father figure to MIT’s young officers, including Collier, a member of his squad.

Noting nothing at all unusual, the sergeant acknowledged Collier and kept driving. He reached his destination five minutes later—where he walked in to find Sacco attempting to reach Collier by radio and, when that failed, phone. Sacco had received a radio call from another patrolman, who thought he might have heard gunshots. But maybe, the officer reported to Sacco, they were just loud drums.

Surveillance video captured from the roof of a building across from the Koch Institute and shown to the court on Wednesday revealed what had happened in those five fateful minutes.

At 10:23, Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev strode off of Ames Street and walked down a path in front of the Koch Institute towards the intersection of Vassar and Main. As they approached the corner and Collier’s cruiser, their walking gaits changed to slinking. They crept up to the cruiser, one on each side of the car.

At 10:24, they reached the front doors. Suddenly, the surveillance tape lit up with red as the car’s brake lights went on.

Their harsh glare signaled that in that instant, one of the men had shot Collier in the head.

According to Nate Harman’s testimony, Dzokhar Tsarnaev then thrust an arm through the driver’s side window, opened the door and leaned in to try to take Collier’s gun, an attempt DiFava and Henniger said was thwarted by the locking system of the holster used by MIT police.

Meanwhile, Harman had finished up a long day working on problem sets in his office and set out on his bike for home. At 10:25, the video showed, Harman streaked behind Dzokhar, five or six feet away.

“He snapped up and turned around,” Harman said. “He looked startled.”

As Tsarnaev met Harman’s eyes, Harman noted his appearance: knit cap, black sweatshirt with an indistinguishable logo or design on the front, thin and relatively tall frame, big nose.

Then he rode off, not thinking anything was particularly unusual or alarmingly, not noticing that Collier was bleeding profusely from gunshot wounds.

Less than a minute later, the Tsarnaev brothers ran back to their car on Ames Street, having failed to steal the gun of the man they’d shot.

Back at the police station, Sacco was still waiting to hear from Collier.

“It became an amount of time that wasn’t comfortable,” he said.

Unlike Sacco, Henniger wasn’t particularly worried. He left to check on Collier, figuring the young cop was responding to the report of possible gunshots. According to surveillance tape, the sergeant approached Collier’s cruiser at 10:30 p.m. and saw what he hadn’t imagined could possibly be true.

“When I arrived at the cruiser, I looked inside, and that’s when I discovered officer Collier had been shot,” he told the court.

Then, Henniger said, he picked up his radio to report the horrific scene, yelling out a short phrase that echoed multiple times through a tense courtroom Wednesday.

“Officer down! Officer down!” he yelled, his voice conveying his immense distress. “Get me help.”

An MIT officer arrived, and together he and Henning removed Collier’s body from the cruiser and laid him on the pavement to start CPR. Two Cambridge police officers also responded to the call, one of them performing chest compressions and the other trying to restart Collier’s breathing.

“There was blood everywhere,” testified officer Brandon O’Hearne, who heard a haunting noise coming from Collier’s mouth that he said sounded like gurgling.

As the officers tried vigorously to resuscitate Collier, they noted that he wasn’t responding to words or treatment. Still, they worked, ultimately in vain, to save their fallen brother. Neither Henniger nor O’Hearne could say how long they were with Collier before an ambulance came, but at some point one did, transporting Collier away from MIT forever.

Then the officers did what they had been trained to do: cordoned off the scene, established entrance and exit procedures and went to work investigating and collecting evidence.

One day after the final moments of Collier’s life were detailed in court, the young officer’s former Lincoln police colleagues reflected on what they saw as Collier’s most special qualities.

Detective Ian Spencer recalled the day he told Collier he rode in the Pan-Mass Challenge, an 100-mile bike ride for charity.

“Usually, I have to go through the whole spiel,” said Spencer. “I told him, ‘I ride in the Pan-Mass Challenge,’ and he immediately said, ‘Oh, what’s your account? I’ll donate.’”

Collier’s generosity, positivity and friendliness were constants, added Lieutenant Sean Kennedy.

“Everything people are saying about him is spot on,” he said. “Just a genuinely nice, genuinely awesome kid.”

The three men also spoke of Collier’s vision of his future: becoming a Somerville police officer, which he had openly shared with Lincoln officials when he was hired as a special police officer.

In that part-time role, his typical duties included traffic detail and prisoner transport. He performed those duties with enthusiasm and good humor, the chief said, and no one in the department begrudged him his plans to one day move on from Lincoln.

Collier’s joining the MIT force as a full-time officer was an important step, Spencer added. It was also one that had paid off: The Somerville police department had offered him a job.

He would have been sworn in as a Somerville police officer in June 2013, fulfilling the goal he had worked toward for years. He never got the chance to see that day.

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Nintendo Entering Smartphone Gaming Market and Talk of New Console http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/17/nintendo-entering-smartphone-gaming-market-and-new-console-details/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/17/nintendo-entering-smartphone-gaming-market-and-new-console-details/#comments Tue, 17 Mar 2015 09:05:35 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96932 At a press conference today Nintendo announced that they are teaming up with Japanese online company DeNA to now make smartphone games. Additionally, Nintendo has announced the code-name for their next console is the NX (Note: code-names are not likely to be used on release of the console, similarly to how the Xbox One was code-named […]

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At a press conference today Nintendo announced that they are teaming up with Japanese online company DeNA to now make smartphone games.

Additionally, Nintendo has announced the code-name for their next console is the NX (Note: code-names are not likely to be used on release of the console, similarly to how the Xbox One was code-named Durango).

According to Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata, the new console is described as a “brand new concept.”

Nintendo has a long history of being reluctant to share their creations outside their own consoles, until today. Now, Nintendo will be working with DeNA to create new games using existing characters and worlds.

“Nintendo has decided to deploy its video game business on smart devices, but it is not because we have lost our passion or vision for the business of dedicated video game systems,”  Iwata says.

No word on any exact games yet, if they will remake old games to release on smartphones, or a speculated release date for their new console.

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Getting to Know Supergiant Games http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/16/getting-to-know-supergiant-games/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/16/getting-to-know-supergiant-games/#comments Mon, 16 Mar 2015 07:50:50 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96902 Tucked away at PAX East in a five by eight yard space, the Supergiant Games booth stood with smiling faces. There were no announcements nor exclusive demos but there was the entire team that made their games a reality standing around like average Joe’s, giddy to get to talk to fans. One of those individuals […]

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Tucked away at PAX East in a five by eight yard space, the Supergiant Games booth stood with smiling faces. There were no announcements nor exclusive demos but there was the entire team that made their games a reality standing around like average Joe’s, giddy to get to talk to fans. One of those individuals was creative director at Supergiant Games Greg Kasavin, who privileged me with a lengthy discussion about his games and views on the video game industry.

Indie developer Supergiant Games currently has two releases: “Bastion” and most recently “Transistor”. Both are action-RPG’s well known for their deeply imaginative universes, stunning artwork, beautiful and original soundtracks, fun fast-paced combat, and stories that are full of heart.

Jen_Zee_04aInspiration for both games came largely from the Diablo series and most specifically “Diablo II.” The team looked at those games with a passion for action-RPG’s, accepted they would never be capable of making a game to the scale of “Diablo II” with such a small team, so asked themselves how they could create something they could make and still be a worthy experience.

A goal was for the player to never play the game and feel like when they play it they can checkout and just blow things up. They want both gameplay and story to be engaging the player enough to feel invested in what is going on.

Thus far, Supergiant Games has had some of the most impressive music to ever be created for video games and one of the best voices to narrate a game who took instant fame on the Internet upon the game’s release. The soundtrack to “Bastion” won the VGX awards for “Best Original Score” and “Best Song in a Game” for 2011. The narrator’s voice obtained such a fan base on the Internet that Valve Corporation hired him to do an announcer pack where he voiced all the dialogue of an announcer for “DOTA 2.” Despite the achievements of these two individuals, they were still stuck selling merch at the Supergiant Games booth, often entirely unrecognized by those who strolled through.

The soundtrack to both games felt impressive enough that the composer must have been working on those songs for a while and they just so happened to fit the theme to the games. I asked Darren Korb, the composer, if he was working on any music for their upcoming game but because development of the next game has not begun, neither had any music. Apparently all the tracks were made with the specific game in mind, making it no coincidence that they fit perfectly.

Transistor’s combat is like Bastion’s, but with an additional element where the player can stop time to plan out the next set of attacks. In turn, creating a more strategic focused combat rather than more of a demand on real-time reflexes like in Bastion.

transistor-gameplay When asked about what the combat system of their next game would be, Greg said he did not have a clue. Though the team has a soft spot for action RPG’s, they love all sorts of games and do not feel the need to limit what genre they make.  He mentioned that when “Bastion” was finished he probably would have said their next game would use the same combat system but instead they ended up taking a more strategic route with “Transistor.”

Difficulty is something many games handle differently but Supergiant Games seems to have found a method to adjust gameplay difficulty that feels fun, rewarding, and fair.

In many games “the very first choice you make is the difficulty,” Greg said. “You are not equipped to make that choice because you have not played the game yet.”

Often games determine their difficulty by playing a numbers game where the enemy will hit harder and have more health. Sometimes games include the enemies to have a smarter AI when the difficulty is raised, like taking cover more often or having greater precision in their aim. Supergiant Games approaches it differently where as the player progresses and gets more comfortable with the mechanics, he or she is presented with the option to turn on and off certain modifiers. These modifiers could be things like “enemies enrage when at low health,” “successful enemy hits temporarily slow the player,” or “attacks have a chance to be reflected back at you,” and provide the player with a percentage increase in experience and currency depending on what modifier is chosen and how many. This lets the player choose exactly how they want to make the game harder, according to what modifier(s) they feel is best countered by their style of play. Playing with no modifiers can still prove challenging, but through trial and error one should be able to progress.

The difficulty modifiers were really made to see how far the developers could stretch the mechanics, which sounds like a much more fun approach than merely fidgeting with some hit point numbers. A goal was so if the player really wants to just experience the story, they should never hit a brick wall that frustrates them to the point of giving up; however, they want to reward the players who put the extra effort in.

According to Greg, gameplay, as it should, leads the game but story holds great significance and should properly accompany that gameplay, not overshadow it or barely exist. Greg believes that story should be just as much a game as the combat. Similarly as to how a player must put in effort to beat a boss, the player must put in effort to make sense of the story. Both games have a lot of ambiguity attached to the story. The games were crafted with a specific tale in mind, but it is the developers hopes that uncovering exactly what every detail of that tale means can be irrelevant to enjoying the experience offered, so long as players are still invested in what story they are creating for themselves. Greg mentions that with a combination of visual cues and music they can guide a player’s emotional trip through the story and place his or her own meaning to what is going. Telling the story in a method that is not quite clear allows it be more personal. It allows players the freedom to make sense of the story in a manner that means the most to them. For Greg, it is the experience that matters, not the perfect understanding of a specific plot point.

DqbH8d1The Kid from “Bastion” and Red from “Transistor” both are silent throughout the entire game. Thanks to this, the player does not relate to the characters through exact statements, but through their actions. Actions the player has control of. It is hard to play either game and not feel as though some sort of emotional investment was made with the characters. The bond formed blurs the line between the character and the player.

Despite criticisms (though few in number), Greg would not change anything about either of their games. He feels confident that both games are a complete experience and exist strongly as their own entities in the video game industry just the way they are. He looks at both stories as being complete on their own and without need of a sequel. Despite that, he did mention the universe of either game may be seen again, but it is more likely that their next game will be set in another unique universe.

Supergiant Games is an indie studio. There is no way around it. Like any indie studio, they may never create something that has the publicity and demand of games like the Call of Duty series, but according to Greg he is “comfortable making games that aren’t for everybody, as long as some people have a really strong positive experience with it.”

Supergiant Games is not looking to sell copies, they are looking to give people experiences not yet offered in this world. Luckily, they have gained plenty of success from their hard work and passion for what they do. Regardless of the dedicated fanbase they have now built, they are in zero rush to put out the next game. According to Greg, one of the many perks of being an indie studio is they do not have some big corporation yelling in their ear to pump out a sequel. They have complete control over their development and feel comfortable enough to take their time and not rush things.

Spending years creating a game with a small team, unsure if all the time and money spent developing the game will provide any sort of compensation, is a scary process. Thankfully, the video game market can reward those who are willing to put in the time to make something special, no matter what it is or who it is supposed to appeal to. “The smaller audience these days can still be very big,” Greg points out.

He brings up how games like “Euro Truck Simulator” can outsell the Assassin’s Creed series on steam despite how niche of an audience one might think “Euro Truck Simulator” would appeal to. It shows that if executed well enough, the game can be successful despite the million dollar corporation’s existing as potential competition.

Supergiant Games has not begun development on their next game. They have not begun composing music, establishing a vision for the combat system, developed a universe, or anything. No pressure is felt to come out with something as soon as possible and that is just the way they like it. Looking at how original both their creations have been, their lack of pressure felt to form their next creation seems like an ideal way for developers’ creativity to thrive. Supergiant games will make another game. With the drive and passion they have for making these unique games that much is clear. They are satisfied with what they have created. It means far more to them to feel proud of what they have made than to make a fortune off of mediocrity.

bastion_1_0Greg Kasavin and everyone else at Supergiant Games will almost definitely be seen at future PAX events for anyone interested in meeting the visionaries behind Supergiant Games. “Day in and day out we’re just sitting at our keyboards” Greg says, “then we come to this show and see people like our stuff and it’s very surreal and moving. It’s incredibly motivating.”

Transistor is currently available for PlayStation 4, PC, Mac, and Linux.

Bastion is currently available for Xbox 360, PlayStation Vita, PC, Mac, and Linux and will be released on PlayStation 4 April 7, 2015.

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PAX East 2015: Cosplay Gallery http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/12/pax-east-2015-cosplay-gallery/ http://blastmagazine.com/2015/03/12/pax-east-2015-cosplay-gallery/#comments Thu, 12 Mar 2015 20:01:12 +0000 http://blastmagazine.com/?p=96873 Conventions and expos bring out the best in terms of costumes and cosplayers. Here are some that we ran into this past weekend:

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Conventions and expos bring out the best in terms of costumes and cosplayers. Here are some that we ran into this past weekend:

Tracer, Widowmaker, Reaper - Overwatch Ruby, Weiss, Blake, Yang - RWBY Zed - League of Legends DSC_2469 Teemo - League of Legends King Hippo - Punch Out DSC_2411 Apollo - Smite Gnar - League of Legends Jinx - League of Legends Unknown Spartans - Halo

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