Author - Jerry Paxton

Castle Dark 2017 Review

I grew up in Riverside, CA and went to Castle Amusement Park A LOT in my youth – sometimes with friends and other times with family. Built and designed in 1976 by Bud Hurlbut, one of the creators of Knott’s Scary Farm, as well as Knott’s Berry Farm’s Calico Mine Ride and Timber Mountain Log Ride, Castle Amusement Park is a fixture of entertainment in Riverside. However, despite my perusing some social media posts, I never got the chance to see their “Castle Dark” haunted event until this year! Castle Park, as it is now known since its purchase by Palace Entertainment, transforms into Castle Dark – a small haunted attraction that adds monsters and haunted houses into the park.

We arrived at Castle Park at 6:30 PM, a half hour prior to Castle Dark beginning. The park was still open, but in what they call their “Happy Hauntings” event. This is a more kid-friendly event and lets children paint pumpkins, participate in costume contests, and go through a very tame haunted house where they will even get some candy. It looked like the kids were having a lot of fun, but that wasn’t why we were there. At 7:00 PM, the PA system rang out with the announcement that Castle Dark had begun, and a small crew of monsters began roaming throughout the park, scaring guests.

We made our way over to the “Carnival of Slaughter”, one of their haunted houses, and went on in. Carnival of Slaughter was short, but the few talent inside were committed to their scares and I even jumped once which, due to my experience with haunted houses, is very rare. Once outside of Carnival of Slaughter, we were directed into another haunted house nearby called “Castle Peak Caverns”. This maze is built on a section of the park’s railroad and has a unique layout because of that. Most haunted houses have twists and turns in order to disorient guests. Castle Peak Caverns is almost a straight shot, albeit with a slight curve. Unfortunately, there were not as many monsters in this maze that there should have, given the distance it covers. I would like to have seen more spider holes alongside the walking path for monsters to conceal themselves inside. Castle Peak Caverns has some great atmosphere – especially once you get inside the mine tunnel area. I have never seen a haunted house laid out in such a straight path before – there is potential here. The last haunted house we went into was called “Shiverton Keep” and displayed good set design, dedicated monsters, and great costuming/prop-making. This maze definitely was the best of the three we experienced that evening – however each had its own strengths that made them fun.

There is one more “haunted house” at Castle Dark, but I type that in quotations as it really isn’t scary. It is the kid-friendly “House of Halloween” maze. In this maze, the scare actors interact with the kids in non-scary ways. They can even get candy! I think this kind of haunted house is essential. Not only does it prime younger people to get into Halloween and haunted attractions, but it also allows them a great deal of fun doing it. There are not enough kid/family-friendly haunts out there.

There are a couple of things that I would love to see come to Castle Dark next year. Chiefly, I’d love to see monsters lining the tracks of the Riverside Express train ride. I am a sucker for ride-based haunted attractions just because there are so few of them. Knott’s Scary Farm doesn’t really do them anymore and the LA Haunted Hayride is a hybrid ride/walk experience now. It would be great for the train to be a dedicated haunted ride – or at least better themed.

Also open during Castle Dark is the arcade and Ghost Blasters dark ride, where guests ride through blacklight-lit scenes and shoot at ghostly targets. It’s a fun ride although I think it might be cool to add some scare actors in it too! Also of note is the fried food shack where you can get all sorts of carnival eats – from friend Twinkies to funnel cake!

Overall, Castle Dark is a fun haunted event that will give both young and old some jump scares and a healthy dose of Halloween fun. If you live in the Inland Empire area, you should definitely find an evening to attend. Hours of operation, ticket information, and more can be found on the Castle Park website.

Photo Gallery

LA Ghost Train 2017 Review

After a turbulent, one year hiatus, the LA Ghost Train has returned to the Los Angeles Live Steamers Railroad Museum in Griffith Park! The LA Ghost Train allows guests to ride on 7½” gauge model trains around spooky sets and scenes. We parked at the public park right next to the LA Ghost Train gate one hour before the attraction opened. It is important to get there early as the parking lots are small and the line gets very long very quickly. At 7:00 PM, the LA Ghost Train opened and creator Gary Baker welcomed us onto our model train. The trains are a big part of the LA Ghost Train experience and, even though it is rather dark during the evening experience, you can make out a lot of the detail to be found on the trains – the amount of work building and maintaining them has to be appreciated.

Our ride around the LA Ghost Train track was so much fun – the sets and scenes that have been constructed this year are great. Unfortunately, some of the sets had been destroyed after the event was temporarily canceled, so they had to be rebuilt. What’s even more amazing is that the LA Ghost Train crew had a VERY short amount of time to get the attraction ready after the LA Live Steamers board gave the event the green light for 2017. You would never know they only had 6 weeks to get it all together as everything looks amazing. The ride lasts for around 2o minutes and, during your ride, you’ll see a ton of spooky fun stuff.

The best part about the LA Ghost Train is not just that it is unique – I can’t think of another haunted train experience in SoCal – but that it’s family-friendly! The sets are spooky and have some startling elements, but it is all very tame in comparison to most haunted houses, which try to one up each other in the gore factor.  Most of the sets at the LA Ghost Train are activated by the train passing by sensors and are of the animatronic variety, but the event does have some impressive pyrotechnic effects – there are no scare actors at the LA Ghost Train. This combination of spooky fun and family-friendliness makes the LA Ghost Train a Halloween time tradition for many families.

A ticket to ride on the LA Ghost Train costs $20 dollars and is well worth the cost of admission. In fact, the LA Ghost Train is the Los Angeles Live Steamers only annual fundraiser. Operating the trains and maintaining the trains and tracks costs a lot of money throughout the year and the ticket sales go to help keep the machinery working.

Overall, the 2017 LA Ghost Train is an amazing experience that offers fun for all ages and is one of the best family-friendly haunted attractions in Southern California. The LA Ghost Train runs various days throughout October – check out their official website for dates, ticket information, and more.

Baja Edge of Control HD Review

Fans of racing games may recall the 2008 title, Baja: Edge of Control. It was released to generally positive reviews and was even one of the nominees for “best racing game of 2008” by GameSpot. Unfortunately, the game was not released on PC at the time. Now, almost ten years later, the game has been remastered for the PC, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4 platforms as Baja: Edge of Control HD.

At its core, Baja: Edge of Control HD puts gamers in the cockpit of over 160 sponsored vehicles from multiple classes. There are go-karts, buggies, 4×4’s, and a lot more. This is because Baja: Edhe of Control HD allows you to compete in a variety of game modes, including hill-climbs and endurance races. There is enough to keep any racing gamer occupied for a while as they learn the various events and the quirks of operating each vehicle. I spent most of my time in the game’s career mode, where you rise in the ranks throughout a huge number of races. In this mode, you earn credits to buy new vehicles and vehicle upgrades, and this in and of itself is a lot of fun.

The most impressive mode that will definitely appeal to the hardcore racers out there are the lengthy “Baja” race modes. These races take place over huge plots of land and can, in the longest race, take you a few hours to complete. I thought the game was a lot of fun, but that is too much for this writer! Good luck to those of you with the fortitude and racing skill to complete it, I salute you.

The controller support seemed good, and my Logitech racing wheel gave me some decent force feedback effects during my races. I would NOT recommend this game for those PC players wanting to just use their keyboards. You really need at least a game pad for this one.

Truth be told, I am usually a horrible racing game player – I just never find the right amount of throttle to not go flying off the corners of the track. I did not suffer this fate in Baja: Edge of Control HD, however, as the game is sort of in the middle of difficulty spectrum. The vehicles handle in what feels like a realistic fashion, but it is not unforgiving like many racers I have suffered through. This balance allowed me to really get into each race and enjoy the experience of flying through the hills and valleys at high speed. According to the developers, the game has had some updating in its physics system, but I did not play the original to compare the two. Whatever they did, though, was positive as I had a lot of fun with the racing component of this game.

While there is a multiplayer mode, it looks like the server populations are not that great right now, so I spent my time mainly in single player. According to the game synopsis, the developers updated the vehicle AI for greater challenger and flexibility. I felt that my AI racing opponents were skilled and usually gave a me a run for my money.

Visually, Baja: Edge of Control HD is no beauty queen. It’s a decent game on the graphical front but, despite the up-to 4K face-lift, there are still a lot of textures that just don’t look very detailed. The good news is that, because of not needing a blisteringly-fast GPU to run, the game is very accessible for a variety of PC configurations and should allow you to see some nice frame rates. Baja: Edge of Control HD features good audio design and plenty of ambient, real-world sounds to make the racing experience sound believable.

Overall, Baja: Edge of Control HD is a fun racing game that is accessible enough for the layperson but not so “dumbed down” that the racing game purists will be turned off. Another huge thing going for it is its very reasonable price point of $29.99. At this price point, it is well worth the purchase for your PC racing setup.


Baja: Edge of Control HD Review Score

(4 out of 5 Stars)


 

South Park: The Fractured But Whole Season Pass Details

October 14, 2017 – UBISOFT® reveals more details on South Park™: The Fractured But Whole Season Pass. The Season Pass adds Stick of Truth costumes and perks, Towelie game tips, new combat challenges, two new story missions, including new combat buddies, new superhero costumes and perks.

Season Pass owners will be able to enjoy three DLCs:

  • “Danger Deck”, where players will have to face the ultimate combat challenge in Doctor Timothy’s Danger Deck . They will be able to unlock exclusive costumes and artifacts. “Danger Deck” will be available for $5.99 on December 2017.
  • “From Dusk till Casa Bonita”, a new story where players will team up with The Coon and Mysterion to defeat a demonic presence at Casa Bonita. This content will be available for $11.99 in 2018.
  • “Bring the Crunch”, which will introduce a new story, including an all new superhero class. It will be available for $11.99 in 2018.

In addition, the Season Pass will also include free Day One content:

  • “Relics of Zaron” (costume and perks pack), available for $4.99 on October 17th
  • “Towelie: Your Gaming Bud” (in game buddy giving tips), available for $1.99 on October 24th

The Season Pass will be available on October 17th for Xbox One, PlayStation® 4 computer entertainment system and Windows PC at a price of $29.99.The Season Pass is also part of the Gold Edition, already available for pre-order at southpark.ubisoft.com/game/en-us/buy/index.aspx

Hunt: Showdown Coming to Steam Early Access

FRANKFURT, Germany – Oct. 13, 2017 – Crytek has announced that Hunt: Showdown will have an early access release on Steam. Hunt is a competitive first-person bounty hunting game with heavy PvE elements. It packs the most thrilling moments from survival games into a match-based format and sets the action in dark and forgotten corners of the world. A new trailer is now available on the game’s Steam page, where players can add Hunt: Showdown to their wishlists.

“We believe strongly that community-driven development is crucial to creating a great online multiplayer experience. An early access release will allow us to get Hunt out to players as quickly as possible, to collect feedback and to work closely with the community to continue to shape the direction of the game,” says Hunt producer Fatih Özbayram of the decision.

Of what players can expect, creative director Magnus Larbrant explains, “We will be adding more gear, more monsters, more hunters, more game modes, more traits, crafting and further map variations throughout early access. We want to take the time to make Hunt the game we’ve always wanted to play.”

Hunt’s match-based gameplay mixes PvP and PvE elements to create a uniquely tense experience where your life, your character and your gear are always on the line. At the beginning of each match, teams set out to track their monstrous targets. Once they’ve found and defeated one of these they will receive a bounty—and instantly become a target for every other hunter left on the map as they try to get off of the map with the prize. The higher the risk, the higher the reward–but a single mistake could cost you everything.

More information and the trailer are available on the Hunt Steam page, YouTube, or at https://www.huntshowdown.com/.

KWA Unveils Ronin M-Series Airsoft Guns

City of Industry, CA (October 14, 2017) – KWA Performance Industries Inc. unveils the new Ronin M-Series, its new line of modular AEG rifles, as the first airsoft rifles to hit the market specifically designed to provide an interchangeable family of products. The Ronin M-Series will have multiple variations for specific player needs and tastes, and is engineered with KWA’s latest AEG 2.5 & AEG 3 gear boxes to combine the industry’s most reliable systems with more aggressive designs. This release proves to be the largest in KWA’s history as it makes two models available globally starting on October 14, 2017, and a third model just before Black Friday.

“KWA made a concerted effort to listen to feedback from the marketplace to deliver a line of rifles that would satisfy all types of play without sacrificing quality and performance and we’re very excited to introduce the new Ronin line to the world,” said Vice President of Sales and Marketing Albert Villalta.“ We understand where the market is going and want to provide our fans and new airsoft players alike with the ultimate platform as it pertains to modularity, personal preference and performance – without the trial and error of DIY mods.”

Custom rails designed for weight-reduction and comfort dress up 6”, 10” and 16” lengths that provide a truly modular experience across current and future KWA AEG rifles. Available in PDW (AEG 2.5 with adjustable FPS; $299 MAP), SBR (AEG 2.5 with adjustable FPS; $339 MAP) and Carbine (AEG 3 with recoil; $399 MAP) lengths to start, the full line of Ronin M-Series offerings will provide a platform that can be adaptable to any style of play or taste.

The Ronin M-Series AEG rifles feature:

  • Upper Receiver highlights
    • Modular upper receivers that can be swapped among all Ronin models and across other AEG 2.5 and AEG rifles in as little as 20-seconds
  • Monolithic-style receiver
  • Custom, lightweight rails with a smaller diameter for speed and comfort
  • Ronin PDW and Ronin SBR feature KeyMod compatibility
  • Ronin Recon ML features M-LOK compatibility with picatinny rail attachments
  • Custom mock suppressor
  • Front & rear PTS® flip up sights
  • One piece rotary hop up
  • Lower Receiver highlights
    • An enlarged trigger guard for comfort
    • Tanker-style stock (Ronin PDW only)
    • PTS® Enhanced polymer stock (Ronin SBR & Ronin Recon ML only)
    • Ambidextrous controls
    • Adjustable FPS is available on Ronin PDW and Ronin SBR only
    • Switch life extender to prevent burnout of trigger contacts
    • PTS® Enhanced Polymer grip and stock

For full specifications, pricing, features and more visit store.kwausa.com.

KWA is the world’s leading airsoft brand that features a full line of Automatic Electric Guns (AEG) and Gas Blow Back (GBB) products. The Southern California-based company has been designing and manufacturing high-quality airsoft products for over 28 years, including 1:1 scale, Mil-Spec, replica products for consumer and law enforcement/military training. KWA’s long-standing tradition of craftsmanship and innovation is met with a commitment to deliver superior performance and ultimate reliability. The company works with a variety of military, local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and training centers.

For more information on the full line of KWA products please visit store.kwausa.com

Pacific Rim Uprising Official Trailer

October 6, 2017 – The globe-spanning conflict between otherworldly monsters of mass destruction and the human-piloted super-machines built to vanquish them was only a prelude to the all-out assault on humanity in Pacific Rim Uprising.

John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) stars as the rebellious Jake Pentecost, a once-promising Jaeger pilot whose legendary father gave his life to secure humanity’s victory against the monstrous “Kaiju.” Jake has since abandoned his training only to become caught up in a criminal underworld. But when an even more unstoppable threat is unleashed to tear through our cities and bring the world to its knees, he is given one last chance to live up to his father’s legacy by his estranged sister, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi)—who is leading a brave new generation of pilots that have grown up in the shadow of war. As they seek justice for the fallen, their only hope is to unite together in a global uprising against the forces of extinction.

Jake is joined by gifted rival pilot Lambert (The Fate of the Furious’ Scott Eastwood) and 15-year-old Jaeger hacker Amara (newcomer Cailee Spaeny), as the heroes of the PPDC become the only family he has left. Rising up to become the most powerful defense force to ever walk the earth, they will set course for a spectacular all-new adventure on a towering scale.

Pacific Rim Uprising is directed by Steven S. DeKnight (Netflix’s Daredevil, STARZ’s Spartacus) and also stars Jing Tian, Burn Gorman, Adria Arjona and Charlie Day. #JoinTheUprising #PacificRimUprising

TEKKEN World Tour Finals Details Announced

SANTA CLARA, Calif., (October 5, 2017) – Leading interactive entertainment media publisher and developer BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. today announced details for its upcoming TEKKEN World Tour Finals tournament, presented by Nissin Cup Noodles®. In an unprecedented break from tradition, for the first time in its 20+ year franchise history, the TEKKEN World Finals will be held outside of Japan. TEKKEN fans will bear witness to the crowning of a new TEKKEN World Champion on November 12, 2017 as 16 of the best fighters from around the globe converge upon the City View at Metreon in San Francisco, California for an all-day battle royale to determine a new TEKKEN champion. The event will also be livestreamed exclusively on social video service Twitch.

The hard-hitting action kicks off at 12:00pm PST as the first double elimination rounds of the TEKKEN World Tour Finals begin. The 16 top seeded players representing the Americas, Europe, and Asia-Pacific regions will attempt to mercilessly destroy their opponents, and from the pile of vanquished foes, two finalists will emerge for the final match. TEKKEN franchise Director, Katsuhiro Harada, and Senior Designer, Michael Murray, will both be in attendance to meet fans and be on-hand to crown the new TEKKEN champion at the end of the night who will take home a $50,000 prize purse, secure a place in TEKKEN history, and earn eternal bragging rights.

“TEKKEN 7 has brought many new experiences to our fans and having the TEKKEN World Finals take place outside of Japan is the latest experience we want to give them.” says Katsuhiro Harada, TEKKEN Franchise Director at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc. “To see TEKKEN 7 met with such enthusiasm and have so many skilled competitors emerge around the globe makes the long hours and hard work the TEKKEN team put into the game well worth our blood, sweat, and tears.”

“TEKKEN 7 has taken the world by storm, especially in the United States. To have the TEKKEN World Tour Finals take place outside of Japan signifies the global strength of the TEKKEN franchise and the competitive capabilities of players around the world.” says Eric Hartness, Vice President of Marketing at BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc. “We invite all TEKKEN and fighting game fans to join us for the TEKKEN World Tour Finals where the competition will be fierce, the action will be non-stop, and by the end of the night, a new TEKKEN champion will be crowned.”

“We partnered with BANDAI NAMCO in order to build the community and infrastructure to sustain long-term growth of this historic fighting game franchise,” said Richard Thiher, Program Manager, Twitch. “Based on the momentum of the TEKKEN World Tour, including its high level of online engagement on Twitch, it has proven to be a successful brand collaboration with no sign of slowing down.”

TEKKEN fans who are looking to join the tournament action in-person can purchase tickets to the TEKKEN World Tour Finals at: TEKKEN TWT 2017 Tickets
. TEKKEN fans who are not able to attend the tournament in-person in San Francisco, California can watch the action on Twitch, the exclusive broadcasting platform for the TEKKEN World Tour Finals at Twitch.tv/Tekken.

TEKKEN 7 is available now in the Americas for the PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system, Xbox One, and PCs via STEAM®. For more information about everything in the TEKKEN universe, please visit: http://tk7.tekken.com/. For more information on the TEKKEN World Tour, visit the official website at http://tekkenworldtour.com. To learn more about BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.’s other products and services go to: http://www.bandainamcoent.com/home.html. Visit the TEKKEN Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/TekkenAmericas. Join the conversation and follow us on BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment America Inc.’s Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/BandaiNamcoUS or on Twitter at: https://www.twitter.com/BandaiNamcoUS.

Seven: The Long Days Gone Release Date and Collector’s Edition

October 5th, Bielsko-Biała, Poland. Global publisher and developer IMGN.PRO reveals content of Seven: The Days Long Gone Standard and Digital Collector’s Editions! Pre-orders are available now. Get your hands on the cool Shadowhand Set, Artbook, a map of Peh Island, the soundtrack and more! Watch the latest gameplay video, giving you a quick overview of the game and its mechanics. Choose your own playing style – adopt the warrior’s method or the silent but deadly approach.

IMGN.PRO and Fool’s Theory announce the release date of their upcoming isometric RPG! Seven: The Days Long Gone will launch on PC December 1st this year. Pre-orders for the game start now – buy it at the Humble Store and GOG. The full list of available pre-order editions can be found below:

Humble Store:

GOG:

Leatherface (2017) Film Review

The late Tobe Hooper’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a seminal horror classic – one which, when released in 1974, caused massive controversy and spawned a whole new type of horror film. Unfortunately, it also spawned a large assortment of unsuccessful sequels. The latest in this line of sequels is actually a prequel film titled Leatherface from Lionsgate. However, much like Rob Zombie’s prequel of John Carpenter’s Halloween, it largely does not work on many levels.

The film starts off at one of Leatherface’s childhood birthday celebrations. We find out that Jed Sawyer (the actual name of human skin mask-wearing killer) will not take a life when prompted by his Mother (Lili Taylor) and family, showing that he started out with somewhat of a human heart. Eventually, Jed finds himself in a mental hospital after the Sawyer family kills the daughter of the local Sheriff (Stephen Dorff) who then vows revenge against them. Ten years later, four patients including Jed (now under a different name) and one hostage, a nurse (Vanessa Grasse), escape the asylum and go on a gore-filled road trip.

Leatherface makes some huge mistakes – the biggest being what Rob Zombie did to Michael Myers in his Halloween prequel: He made him a sympathetic person. We see Leatherface as a young boy and young man with feelings and as someone who even comes to the rescue of other people at times. It humanizes the deranged behemoth we see in the original film and hurts that movie in the process. They do this to bolster a surprise reveal midway through the film which makes no sense given how Leatherface appears in the original film. Biologically, it simply does not make sense.

The second big problem with Leatherface is that there are no “good” characters in the film that you want to root for or put the viewer in the situation. The closest we have is the nurse character, and she doesn’t get nearly enough time to develop and ends up pushed to the background due to the more powerful performances by some actors in the film. This is not to say that Vanessa Grasse is not a good actor – she is and it shows in what she has to work with. Her character is simply not written in a way that allows her to shine like she could. Even the Sheriff, whom I had hoped would end up being the “good guy”, ends up being corrupt. In fact, most every character in this movie is corrupted in some way except. You NEED a character the audience can connect to in these films. Without it, the film loses that gnawing and building tension that keeps an audience engaged and hoping upon hope that the “good guy” doesn’t end up a skin mask.

The third big problem in the film is that, while the movie is titled “Leatherface”, it doesn’t focus enough on Leatherface! Instead, it ends up focusing on a number of other characters doing “bad”  (or just plain stupid) things in a poorly-presented manner. What is very clear is that, despite a couple enjoyable previous films, French directing duo Alexandre Bustillo and Julien Maury do not have a grasp on what made the 1974 film great. What’s weirder is that the writer, Seth M. Sherwood, doesn’t have any other writing credits to speak of on IMDB. How does a two-person directing team and screenwriter with a handful of credits between the three of them get put at the helm of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre prequel movie?

Leatherface does have a couple bright spots, though, namely in its cinematography and performances. Lili Taylor, Stephen Dorff, and Finn Jones all put in great performances – again, with that they are given to work with. The film is shot beautifully, with foreboding angles, dark moodiness, and well-lit gore.

Unfortunately, I just can’t get behind Leatherface as a horror film or, for that matter, film I would buy or rent despite some good cinematography and performances. Those two factors are the only things which saved Leatherface from being rated at 1 out of 5 stars. If you really are craving this kind of horror movie, you should just rent or buy the original film and skip Leatherface altogether. It devalues the original film – especially if you have never seen the classic movie before.


Leatherface (2017) Review Score
(2 out of 5 stars)