8 Reasons Ernest Cline's Armada Is Nothing Like Ready Player One (and Why That's Not a Bad Thing)

Friday, July 24, 2015 at 5:00 am

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The meteoric rise of Ernest Cline should be an inspiration to all of nerdkind. I unknowingly first encountered his work when I read his Buckaroo Banzai sequel script that made the rounds in the early days of the Internet, and from there he went on to script Fanboys; a love letter to the Star Wars saga that was full of heart, even if the finished product was a little mediocre. His title of King of the Nerds was obtained with the release of his first novel, Ready Player One, in which young nerd everyman Wade Watts searches the virtual-reality replacement to the internet for an Easter Egg worth more than he could possibly imagine. Ready Player One practically became a nerd holy book overnight. The wildly popular tome was optioned for a film the day after release, and is currently in pre-production with Steven Spielberg sitting in the captain's chair.

Last week, Cline's second novel Armada hit book shelves everywhere. Less than a week later, it's ranked 59th overall on the Amazon Best Sellers page, with a visit to the New York Times bestseller list almost guaranteed in the near future. It's the story of Zack Lightman, a completely average, normal nerdy teen who discovers that his favorite video game is a lot more important than just entertainment. The question is: does Cline replicate the success he found in Ready Player One? Let's find out...with minimal spoilers.

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The 10 Best Video Game Cinematic Trailers (for Terrible Games) of All Time

Thursday, June 4, 2015 at 5:30 am

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Let's just get this out of the way at the top: you're not going to agree that all of the games on this list qualify as terrible, but for my purposes, they sure as hell are. In a world where Evolve gets a 9 out of 10 from a three-letter outlet that shall go unnamed, we need to reevaluate what it means for a game to suck.

In the modern gaming age, consumers spend a lot of money on this stuff, and in the modern reviewing age, outlets want to maintain relationships with distributors; essentially, seeing anything below an 8 on a well-regarded review channel should be seen as a failure by major developers. Anything below a 7 and you're starting to get into steaming pile territory.

The silver lining to the following particular turd-bombs (trademarked term) is that they arrived on the backs of stellar marketing campaigns, each of which were kicked off by incredible CGI cinematics that stand on their own in terms of quality despite the crappy finished product they were used to hawk. Here are the top ten...

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The 10 Greatest Pinball Machines of All Time

Wednesday, May 27, 2015 at 5:00 am

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Throughout my youth, I played video games rather voraciously. I was, as a friend dubbed me, a Nintend-whore. If it was released by Nintendo between the years of 1985 and 1995, I either begged my parents for it, worked my butt off mowing lawns to afford it, or merely coveted it with every shred of my soul. To this day, there are over a dozen NES games I can defeat through sense memory alone. Despite that, however, I cannot describe myself as a "gamer." This is because, sometime around 1997 (about the time side-scrolling video games gave way to the more elaborate 3-D type), I checked out of video games altogether. To this day, I have been baffled and overwhelmed by newer video games, finding them far too elaborate, too involved, and too expensive to get into. I don't have 100 hours to devote to a Halo game. My patience wears thin if a game is more complicated than, say, Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past.

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20 of the Most Bizarre RPG Character Creation Rules

Wednesday, May 20, 2015 at 5:00 am

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White Wolf Publishing
Not every RPG idea is a good one.

RPGs are marvelous things, with many strange twists and permutations, yet as different as they can be, nearly all of them have certain core concepts in common, and one of the most core concepts is character generation. Building a character is a rite of passage, and when done right it can be one of the best parts of playing a game. However, there's always some weird stuff that sneaks in on the periphery, and this list includes some of the strangest. It couldn't possibly be complete, so feel free to add your own favorite bits in the comments.

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7 Final Fantasy Secrets Hidden Within the Game Files

Tuesday, March 17, 2015 at 5:00 am

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Square Enix

It's been a rough few years for fans of the Final Fantasy series. Between the numerous poorly made cell phone titles, a new online game that was still in the alpha stage development when released, and a numbered entry that was announced in 2006 with a release date of "sometime this ice age," it should come as no surprise that Final Fantasy fans are still nostalgic for the days when the franchise was at its peak.

To this day, the old games in the series are still making money on services like the PlayStation Network and Steam. The reason Final Fantasy I has been re-released seventeen times, and why a port of the now eighteen year-old game Final Fantasy VII was part of last year's PlayStation Experience event is simple. Fans are filled with nostalgia because they just don't make Final Fantasy games like they used to. Which is why people are still exploring the data of these beloved titles, hoping to find more pieces of the games they love which have never been seen before.


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Unboxing Geekfuel's Monthly Mystery Package [VIDEO]

Monday, March 16, 2015 at 12:27 pm

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The folks at Geekfuel sent me one of their monthly subscription boxes to review - due to my apartment flood making it hard to find things like my camera, it took a little longer than it ought to.

Now that things have settled, watch us unbox.

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ROBOTIC GAMING MONTHLY - Revenge of the Budget Game

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 at 5:00 am

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Artwork by CitrusKing46

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Robotic Gaming Monthly, Topless Robot's monthly column devoted to the recent happenings, reviews of recent releases, and trailers in gaming! This time around we ask such questions as "Should the major players in the gaming industry think smaller?", "Does Life is Strange show any promise?" and "Do giant purple bunnies really make the best mayoral candidates?" Let's head in and see what the answers to those questions and many others are!

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10 Non-Fantasy Films That You Should Turn Into D&D Adventures in Your Campaign.

Thursday, February 26, 2015 at 5:00 am

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MW Kaluta

Every Dungeon Master has experienced that dread moment when the players are about to arrive, but you haven't had sufficient prep time to put together the adventure they'll be playing. Sometimes this is due to writer's block. Most gaming groups have the same person DM the majority of adventures, and coming up with stories week after week can be difficult. This is often where professionally published adventures come in very handy, but most groups have a "completist" player who has purchased and read every adventure. What is a Dungeon Master to do?


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Before the Franchise Gets Cooties, You Can Crowdfund a Ghostbusters Game That's All Dudes

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm

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Sorry, but it's hard not to be cynical, knowing full well that if the new all-female Ghostbusters takes off there will be merchandise galore, probably including a board game. And with that in mind, it's equally hard to ignore the fact that none of the proposed figurines for Cryptozoic's Kickstartering board game is a female character - no Dana, Janine, or Gozer in "prehistoric bitch" mode.

That said, it looks like it could be pretty fun - the crowdfunding aspect is apparently so that the game can come loaded with extras that a more corporate-mandated product would have to cut back on. It will apparently feature characters from the comics, movies and cartoons, and the designs are comic-based caricatures to avoid likeness issues.

For extra-realistic fun, declare the Spengler figure unplayable, hide the Venkman somewhere nobody can find him, and let whoever's playing Stantz hog the dice for about 20 years as he tells everyone else his various plans for winning, then fails to execute any of them.

The 14 Nerdy Things We Most Look Forward to in 2015

Thursday, January 22, 2015 at 4:00 am

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2014 ended three weeks ago, but our wrap-ups of 2014's best and worst ended yesterday. It's fair to say we consumed a lot of entertainment, enjoyed many things and had almost as much fun vocally destroying the things we didn't like so much. And as I hope was evident, not every Topless Robot contributor had the same ideas about what those things were.

Which is why, as we look to the year ahead, I've gathered together as many of our regular contributors as possible for this list, in which they all describe what they're geeked out about for 2015. From board games to RPGs, action figures to adaptations - and in one case, even the rumors we long to hear - it's a varied, insightful and excitable sneak peek.

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