I didn’t know it did THAT! Kingwin 120mm PC Case Fan

K450-2545_vmain01x_er_mn_8139571The Green Machine’s been making a lot of racket lately. After pulling a few plugs inside my PC’s case, I narrowed it down to the 120mm exhaust fan. While I had gotten in the habit of thumping it in just the right spot on the back every 30 minutes to shut it up, the chore was getting a bit old. It was time to replace that sucker.

A quick trip out to my local TigerDirect store left me in a bit of a conundrum. They didn’t have any green LED fans. I sure as heck wasn’t putting in a red one and blue LEDs are SO blah. Then I saw it: The Kingwin 120mm Multi-Color LED Case Fan. I was suddenly struck by the most rational thought any PC pimper could have: “Why would I have just one color when I could have ALL THE COLORS!!!”. While the packaging showed the fan lit up with one color in each corner, nothing could have prepared me for the psychedelic lightshow this thing would put out upon being fed some power!

Ravetastic! Ya know, I think the 80mm fan on the top of my case is starting to make a little noise too Winking smile

Chasing GOTY: The Almost Games of the Year for 2014

While 2014 will almost certainly be remembered as the year when the video games market began finally normalizing again after the boom ushered in with Nintendo's Wii, there was one group of gamers who had plenty of new stuff to play all year ‘round: Computer RPG fans. I gotta tell ya, in a year slim on releases it’s a great irony that choosing GUO’s 2014 GOTY was the most difficult on record. It was only the rock-solid presentation and lack of technical issues that led to Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor being chosen over one other, equally Earth-shattering title: Divinity: Original Sin.

It was perhaps a little suspect when established developer Larian Studios took to Kickstarter in order to fund their fourth Divinity game. Their justification? They knew they could make one of the greatest RPGs off all time. They’ve been trying, and coming close, for over 10 years. Larian stated that in order to finally succeed and create the game they always dreamed of they would have to go it alone, free from the influence of bean-counting marketing executives. The results speak to the wisdom of Larian’s vision.

At first blush, Divinity: Original Sin is a step back into the second golden age of CRPGs heralded by Baldur’s Gate. One glance at the screenshots is enough to make old farts pine for the times when store shelves were lined with isometric, party based adventures like Icewind Dale, Arcanum, and Torment. I know my first few moments with Divinity were spent with a goofy smile on my face and the phrase “They sure don’t make ‘em like this anymore,” on my lips.

I hadn’t even finished the tutorial dungeon by the time this thought was proven incorrect.

Growing Up Otaku Game of the Year 2014: Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor

It’s been quite a while since Monolith shook the world and, frankly, it didn’t seem like they had the chops to ever do it again. The studio that once excelled at creating new worlds (Blood, Shogo, No One Lives Forever, F.E.A.R, and Condemned) has languished of late with back-to-back licensed yawns in 2012 (Gotham City Imposters & Guardians of Middle-earth). Who woulda thunk that their second foray into the well-worn world of Tolkien would meet with any more success than the first one? Especially when the game bears such obvious signs of ‘inspiration’ (to put it kindly) from two other well-worn franchises: The Batman-Arkham and Assassin’s Creed games.

Shadow of Mordor (SoM) reportedly began life as another Batman game and it shows. The combat favors rhythmic, well timed buttons presses with random button-mashing frequently resulting in failure. One wrinkle SoM introduces to the combat is that you are very much behind enemy lines. Uruks are wandering around everywhere and a protracted battle can lead to more attention than you originally bargained for, both from the enemy minions as well as some particularly monstrous wildlife. This is a title where discretion will get you a good deal farther than valor. Fortunately, the stealth system works admirably and the toys in your arsenal cater equally well to both stealthy and aggressive approaches.

The environments are large and chunky with an obsessive amount of detail lavished on character models. Much like Arkham City, the game world feels a bit small at first blush, but turns out to be quite adequate for providing plenty of room for your open-world hijinks. Lacking Batman’s grappling hook, our hero has instead been blessed with an Assassin’s mobility. It requires all the same skill (That is to say, hold one button to clamber up darn near anything), but continues to look and feel awesome. A bevy of special skills and gadgets ranging from a ghostly bow, to rideable monsters, to a teleporting sneak attack provides players with a good range of tactical options for both locomotion and combat prowess.

Still, for everything SoM borrows from games that have come before, it also concocts some welcome twists to alleviate the more tedious or aggravating problems associated with these types of games. A fall/stumble move that actually speeds you up? Why, thank you! A short QTE to avoid the final killing blow of an enemy? Beats a load screen! How ‘bout a crouched stealth run? Where have you been all my life!

Bolt on an utterly forgettable plot (The main character’s name is… Talion, I think. He’s possessed by some long dead elf because… Reasons.) complete with several horribly forced Gollum cameos, sprinkle in some unremarkable collect-a-thon items, and you’ve got a title that would have been a polished, fun, if unremarkable, game. So how does it end up as our pick for Game of the Year?

Merry Christmas from the Cast and Crew to You

As is tradition here at Growing Up Otaku, we turn to the Internet’s favorite troubadour, Jonathan Coulton, as he checks in with the residents of Chiron Beta Prime.

From all of us at GUO to you, Happy Holidays! We love you!

Remember, it could always be worse Winking smile

For more holiday hijinks, check out these features:

Santa Prepares for World Tour with CISR Haptically-Enabled Universal Motion Simulator
Christmas Light Display as Video Game
Fan Made Original Star Wars Trilogy Christmas Cards
Stop the Spread of Holiday Cheer with Garden Gnome Carnage
World’s Oldest Christmas Recording Now Available Thanks to Digital Transfer
The 12 Geeks of Christmas (Decorations)
Crafty Christmas
A Festival of Geeky Christmas Lights

And out newest feature: Santa Ready for Takeoff!

Get SimCity 2000 for Free from Origin

simCity2000Widely praised as the best (or at least fan-favorite) of the Sim City games, Sim City 200: Special Edition is being given away for free! Grab it directly from EA’s Origin service.

While you’re at Origin, you may want to check their New Year’s Doorbuster sale going on for the next couple of days. New games like Dragon Age and Sims4 are $20 off and there are a few other tempting deals like Titanfall for $10 (Scratch that. GameStop has Titanfall for $5!).

In the 21st Century, We’re Tracking EVERYONE : NORAD Santa Tracker is Live!

norad santa trackerIt’s Christmas Eve and  the North American Aerospace Defense Command  is on full alert! Today’s aerospace anomaly? An portly old man has been sighted circling the Earth in, of all anachronistic things, a flying sleigh. It get weirder! The sleigh appears to be powered by a squadron of nine flying reindeer. This target has thus far proven too fast to be intercepted by any known means. The unidentified flying object, now dubbed SANTA,  appears to be carpet bombing the planet with packages ranging from Hello Kitty dolls to socks stuffed with coal.

Is this the end of civilization as we know it? Almost assuredly! And thanks to the Internet, you can watch it live from the comfort of you own PC at NORADsanta.org.

Play Santa Ready for Takeoff! | My Christmas Game

Happy Holidays, Otakuteers! I baked you up something special this year. Don’t worry, you can unwrap it early. Enjoy my latest experiment in crafting digital toys, "Santa Ready for Takeoff!”

It's Christmas eve and Santa is ready for takeoff!  There's just one problem: The Elves forgot to clean up after their snowman building competition!

Help Santa steer the sleigh and knock down snowmen to give Rudolph enough time to reach 88 clippity-clops per second to get airborne.

Download for Windows: Installer or Zip

Play in your browser

Have a wonderful holiday season! We love you! Thanks for playing!

Top 5 Games to Make You Feel Thankful

It’s American Thanksgiving and we’re rounding up 5 gaming titles that will remind you just how good you’ve got it.

5) Cart Life : Dysfunctional Food Stand Sim

cartlife3You wasted all morning waiting in the wrong line to get your business permit. Now you’re number 12 in, hopefully, the correct line. The problem is that you need to pick up your daughter from school in a half-hour. Do you let your ex pick up the kid, knowing that he’s looking for anything to help his case in the upcoming custody trial, or write off this whole day wasted at the license office knowing that the rent is due at the end of the week. And we haven’t even started with the misery of running a hot dog stand!

Be thankful: You’ve got the time and money to sit on your butt reading dumb Tops lists on the Internet.

Get it for free from http://www.richardhofmeier.com/cartlife/

4) Papers, Please : Totalitarian Paperwork Simulator

gaming-papers-please-3The security guard assigned to your border crossing post following a terrorist attack told you about his fiancĂ© coming through this morning. She just showed up. Naturally, her travel papers are not in order. Do you turn away the lover of the man who’s job it is to guard your life or let her through knowing that every illegal entry reduces your paycheck and your son is sick and needs medicine?

Be thankful: Your job’s paperwork won’t lead to someone being sent to a Russian prison. Or executed..

Get it for $10 from http://papersplea.se/

3) Telltale’s The Walking Dead : Zombie Apocalypse Adventure

The-Walking-Dead-Episode-1-A-New-Day-PC-Screenshot-1Food supplies have run out. You are down to four snack bars. Who do you give them to? The kids? The old folks? The people posted to watch over your motel turned makeshift fortress? And what about that new kid who came to camp? He says it’s just a cut, but could it be a zombie bite?

Be thankful: The dead don’t walk, you’ve never had to crush someone’s skull with a cinder block, or cut off your own arm.

Get it for $25 from http://www.telltalegames.com/walkingdead/season1/ or your favorite mobile app store.

2) This War of Mine : Modern War Survivor Manager

gaming-this-war-of-mine-03Your neighbor tipped you off to an unguarded supply drop last week. Sneaking across the blasted ruins of your once great city, you found the cache and returned home with a fresh supply much needed food and water. Today, the remnants of your nation’s authority are knocking on your door. They’re offering a generous cache of cigarettes and coffee to any information leading to the mole. Do you squeal on your neighbor for the goodies or keep your mouth shut in the hopes he sniffs out another cache to raid? If he doesn’t point the finger at you first, that is!

Be thankful: You haven’t been bombed for a year and forced to race your fellow survivors for the right pick through the wreckage in the hopes of food.

Get it for $20 from http://www.11bitstudios.com/games/16/this-war-of-mine

1) Oregon Trail

Oregon_Trail_DOS_04The weather is turning cold, you just used up your last spare wagon axle, and a thief stole your clothes in the middle of the night. It’s a bloody miracle that Americans settled the western United Sates!

Be thankful: You have indoor plumbing, access to automobiles, and no idea what dysentery is.

Get it… Well, on every system at every price point for the past 43(!) years.  Let me Google that for you.

GUO Halloween Roundup

HappyHalloween-300x300We’ve done a ton of Halloween features here at GUO. It’s the Mrs.’ favorite holiday, after all! If your looking for some last minute dinner ideas, paper crafting activities, gaming, or just like looking at pictures of carved gourds, check out these articles from our spooky days of yore!


Have a Papercrafty Halloween!
A Gaggle of Ghastly and Geeky Gourds for Halloween
5 Scary Good Games for Halloween You Never Heard of
Need Dinner for Halloween? Try Spaghetti and Oozing Eyeballs!
Hello Kitty All Dolled Up for Halloween
The Scariest Story Ever Told (in Psychonauts)
Lego Zombie Apocalypse — Bricks and Brains
Star Trek's Q Reads The Raven and Giant Pumpkin Smashes Car

and, of course,

Play My New Game: I Hate Halloween

Happy Halloween! We terrify you!

"I Hate Halloween” Now Available for Android & Kindle Fire Phones and Tablets | Dreams Come True

h8halloween eggzactly-mobileAlmost immediately after release, I was hit with the inevitable question game developers must face in this age of pocket computers: “Can I get it on my phone?” What was to be the start of a much craved respite morphed into yet another crazy code-a-thon as work began on the touchscreen version of “I Hate Halloween”.

I was worth it. Both myself and The Unpaid Intern immediately agreed that the touch version of “I Hate Halloween” was THE version to play. Holding the adorable, cartoon world in your hands on the frantic holiday battle to save your home’s new paint job was true treat!

Check it out now on Google Play for Android phones and tablets running version 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) or later.

Here it is on Amazon's AppStore for all Kindle Fire Phones and Tablets except the original, 1st generation Fire.

Continue past the page jump for more on the formerly secret Project H8Hal saga!