Category: Video Game Review

In my time at Southern New Hampshire University, I’ve been on a long search for a way to leave my impact on this place. Game Design is a big part of my life, and I believe it should tie into most of what I do. I’ve worked hard over the past four years to have a meaningful experience both in my education as well as my extra curricular involvement on campus. I was an RA for three years, trying to incorporate my knowledge of games into fun and interactive activities for the brilliant minds in my hallways.

I joined the campus newspaper, the Penmen Press, in order to spread objective finite details in the form of game reviews. While it was fulfilling, I knew that my true calling was creating a sense of connectedness between the university and local game developers.

Over the summer I created the site you’re currently reading this on, and by extension a lot of the creative content including the podcast and other discussion based creative work. The more I focused on what made games good, the more I came to the understanding that game design is an inherently social beast, regardless of the shape it takes. In order to truly understand the social elements of game design, we must understand the types of games people around us are developing, and expand the social consciousness of our entire industry.

I started planning the SNHU Game Design Showcase and Exhibition in an attempt to show that I believe in the game industry here in New Hampshire, and the noteworthy achievements of my peers. I’d done one Game Design Expo before, back when Mustapha’s Game Room was a baby blog and I was just an overly ambitious high school student. This event lacked the same sort of purpose and resources, as it was more of a charity fundraiser for a library I worked for.

This new event was going to build on similar ideas and principles, that games have the potential to bring people together, but combine it with four years worth of university level game design teachings.

Now that I’ve gone on for ages about the philosophy behind this event, I should make mention of how the event went.

While this event didn’t have the incredible attendance of a PAX or a Boston FIG, it did offer a very good environment of free press and testing for a lot of very talented developers. Students, outside companies, alumni, and more gathered to show off some of the most innovative and intuitive games ever made. Whether they were treading the difficult path of VR development or adding twists to beloved genres such as bullet hell shooters and action packed platformers, these games were using limited resources to churn out some very strong design, visuals, and controls.

We also were honored with the incredibly seasoned Chuck Carter as our keynote speaker, offering all of us some pretty incredible insight into what we can do as aspiring game designers and developers in order to make games for a living. The career elements are present, but perhaps nothing strikes as much of a chord as the mentality that those in the industry are encouraged to have. Dedication and persistence are great to have, and talent is absolutely important, but nothing is quite as integral to a career in the industry as the ability to work hard and work on your own. Creating content to show how you think, how you solve tasks, how you interact with others, and how you approach conflict is the primary way of displaying that you’re prepared for these sorts of things.

 

Chuck Carter and our outside exhibitors were incredibly strong and impactful, but what made me the proudest was witnessing the community of SNHU students who showed off a plethora of games. There’s something to be said for a community that stands together to do great things, and despite what some people may believe, video games are truly great. They are an impactful medium, allowing people from all walks of life to experience real magic. The magic of interactivity, of changed perspective.

To conclude, I created the Game Room on the sole principle of emphasizing the important aspects of the innately social nature of games as a medium. The SNHU Game Design Showcase and Exhibition is just a further extension of those same principles. So a profound thank you is deserved, to all those who helped me plan, who exhibited, who provided funding and support. I owe an especially large thanks to Chuck Carter, who managed to save us when we were very close to having an event with no keynote speaker. I also owe thanks to Professor Ed Brillant, who helped me through an entire year of planning and prevented me from going at this process blind.

Next steps will be to do a post-mortem process and determine what we can do next year to set ourselves on the right track to growing and expanding the event. One last thanks for all who’ve attended, and most importantly of all, a thanks to you, the reader! The Game Room has afforded me so many great opportunities. This website, the YouTube Channel, the Twitter, and more. This brand has given me an avenue with which to share my perspectives and beliefs about this medium. So thank you for sticking with me for so long, thank you for reading this post, and make sure you come back soon for more from the GAME ROOM!!!

*Originally Published In Penmen Press*

A new year begins, and the anticipation for upcoming titles starts right back up. This year is especially big for the video game industry as Nintendo, the longstanding industry titan will be launching their handheld home console hybrid, Nintendo Switch. Along with that will come some very high profile game launches. Let’s dive right in and look at the biggest titles of this year’s launch schedule.

On Feb 21, the critically acclaimed “Halo Wars” series will be getting its second installment. This RTS reimagining of the classic shooter franchise has been a major success, appealing to fans both old and new. The second title will be available on Xbox One and Windows 10.

On Feb 28, “Horizon Zero Dawn” will launch, combining the aesthetic of a futuristic technologically advanced world with tension of a dystopia and tribal division. This game is looking to be one of the most creative launches this year, and will be available exclusively on PS4 and PS4 Pro.

Mere days later on Mar 3, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” will launch on Wii U and Nintendo Switch. Perhaps the most anticipated game of the entire year, this title will reinvent the conventions of Zelda, bringing the game back to its open world roots. With fully voice acted cutscenes, and a world that can be explored from the time you purchase the game, this is shaping up to be the most interesting Zelda yet.

Later in the month, on Mar 21, fans of the “Mass Effect” series can get their hands on “Andromeda” which is the newest game in the RPG series. Bioware is back in space, and this time, players can explore an entirely new set of planets on PS4, Xbox One, and PC.

For the first three months of 2017, there will be plenty of big game launches. As we approach the spring, even more titles such as “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “Injustice 2” will be on the way. Here’s to keeping games in 2017 as interesting as possible.

*Originally Published In Penmen Press*

Nintendo has recently turned to mobile titles to pay tribute to some of their most beloved intellectual properties. From “Miitomo” which personalizes the interaction between players, games, and their own avatars to “Super Mario Run” which gives new players a basic introduction to the wonderful world of gaming’s favorite platforming superstar. Perhaps no mobile title yet has been as strong a tribute as “Fire Emblem Heroes” which takes the beloved series to new territory.

A beautiful celebration of the beloved strategy franchise, “Fire Emblem Heroes” takes the most base elements of the core series, and adds enough pull to lure in new fans. As mobile titles take over the world in their influence (largely due to free-to-play models making them accessible) it’s great to see a title that uses that influence to keep traditional handheld titles relevant.

“Fire Emblem Heroes” is essentially, a lite strategy game that allows players to participate in 4v4 battles featuring a combination of a new original cast and the most revered heroes in the franchise. Take the role of tactician, as you use your rare ability to summon heroes from many worlds. Whether it’s Marth or Roy (commonly known for their appearance in “Super Smash Bros”) or Eirika and Eliwood, players will get to delve even deeper into the franchise, perhaps finding an interest they didn’t know they had.

The combat of “Fire Emblem Heroes” is substantial, keeping most of the core elements of the original games while maintaining some level of simplicity. The visual style is new and fresh, as well as somewhat humorous. The sound design is brilliant, and true to the series’ roots. The social experience is also quite well executed, with adding players as friends being as easy as the click of two buttons. Perhaps eliminating the friend codes for specific requests would be ideal, as friend codes have never worked particularly well for Nintendo.

The launch of this title incredibly well timed with “Fire Emblem Echoes” coming out in a few months, and “Fire Emblem Warriors” coming out next year. Nintendo is clearly trying to capitalize on what was once an incredibly obscure franchise. With “Fire Emblem Heroes” now being available on IOS and Android, the franchise will no doubt hit the homes of many players far and wide.

Welcome aboard, Game Roomies!

I’d like to take this time to share in an intimate discussion with my favorite readers about the nature of this year in games. I realize it hasn’t been the best or the easiest for a lot of people, so I’d just like to take some time and discuss some highlights and low points of this year’s launches.

A lot of people really don’t like No Man’s Sky, and that’s reasonable, but I think it has the potential to become a beautiful comeback story about what our industry is capable of achieving with enough time. The game may not have launched being of the quality represented by Hello Games, but over the course of the next few years, it has the potential to be a good game. I doubt it will ever regain the love and popularity it had before launch, but that comes with the territory.

Now in discussing some good launches, I don’t think I can mention games of the year without talking about Overwatch. While I myself don’t care for shooters, as loyal readers already know, this game has had a major impact on the culture surrounding Blizzard in a way I enjoy. While I may never play the game, I’ll hold out for an animated series of sorts.

Back on my side of the coin, Fire Emblem Fates also launched this year, and I got the privilege of playing all three paths of the game. They were incredible.

Nintendo announced their newest console, the Switch, and Sony and Microsoft have been releasing iterative versions of their consoles as well, emphasizing the 4K visuals that seem to be sweeping the gaming world.

But you know, I get to talk about best games and whatnot on MMOExaminer, so I’d really like to zero in on some of the best stuff that we got to do here.

Starting with PAX East, where I got to be on Nintendo Minute and meet numerous independent developers, the true destiny of Mustapha’s Game Room became unmistakably clear to me. My job through this blog was to create an online portfolio, giving me access to countless opportunities, as well as a chance to interact with the gaming community on a daily basis.

Through podcasts, E3 Live Coverage, and tons of written posts here and on MMOExaminer as well, I got the privilege of becoming a far better writer than I thought possible.

In May, we were just a blog with big ideas, but now we’re growing, and it’s thanks to the readers who have stayed loyal over all of this time!

As always, if you’d like to read more of my written content, head on over to MMOExaminer for daily game news and discussions from yours truly! Make sure you like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter as well!

I’d just like to extend my utmost gratitude to everyone, and make sure that you all come back in 2017 for more from the GAME ROOM!!!

*Originally Published in Penmen Press*

No holiday season is complete without blockbuster games. Especially if you’re a student, you might find yourself needing a game or two to kill time over break. Let’s dive right in and look at some of the biggest titles you should be playing this holiday season.

First and foremost, after a ten year development cycle, fans of the critically acclaimed “Final Fantasy” series should rejoice. “Final Fantasy XV” has finally launched, and to quite the acclaim. This game, known for its large open world and emphasis on the relationship between its main party, has been quite the topic of conversation. If you’re looking for a game to pour yourself into over break, this is it.

In the mood for a more thoroughly challenging experience? Be careful what you wish for because “Super Mario Maker For Nintendo 3DS” is now available. The Wii U title that changed the face of our favorite plumber’s franchise has now gone handheld, meaning you can torture yourself on the go. From giant flying Bowsers to Pirahna Plants falling from the sky, you’ll never be able to stop moving in this user-generated dungeon of well crafted levels.

Interested in adding a bit more strategy to your life? While “Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft” is far from new, its
newest expansion, “Mean Streets of Gadgetzan” just launched, giving players the opportunity to battle with over 100 new cards. With this game reaching its height userbase, it’s a better time than ever before to jump into one of the biggest collectible card games on mobile and PC.

“Furi” was previously reviewed in the Penmen Press, and though it’s not a new game, it is launching this month on Xbox One. If you missed out on a chance to try this incredibly balanced action game, a whole new world of possibilities is being opened for you.

Finally, if you’re looking for something a bit more “in the theme” of this season, “Steep” is an open world winter sports game developed by Ubisoft. Unconventional? Yes. The formula still finds a way to be unique and fun, despite being based on something as niche as winter sports.

The options for a gamer hungry for adventure are as plentiful as ever, thanks to the launch of numerous incredible titles. Have a happy holiday, and happy gaming!

If you’ve been missing out on daily content from me, what are you waiting for? Head on over to the Facebook or Twitter page for Mustapha’s Game Room to see written content from various sites, written by me! Everything is posted on the daily. In the meantime, get your hands on some of these games. Thank you for reading, and come back soon for more from the GAME ROOM!!!

*Originally Published in the Penmen Press”

If you’re like me, “Undertale” was a game you intended to try, but the incredibly vocal fanbase may have turned you away. Having now passed that threshold, it’s clear that there’s far more to this game than meets the eye.

“Undertale” is a game worth revisiting, for numerous reasons. First and foremost, it offers fans of classic RPGs such as “Earthbound” and “Final Fantasy” a familiar interface, taking the traditional nature of turn-based battles and building on that formula. However, the deeper you get into the game, the more you will start to find that the mechanics of combat don’t quite match up with a classic RPG at all.

“Undertale” truly puts you in the driver’s seat. It gives you the opportunity to customize your experience as you go, allowing your style of play to directly mirror the narrative. Whether you kill or spare enemies, attack or dodge, defend or run, the game will be an entirely different experience.

Despite taking the classic RPG aesthetic, “Undertale” has some very advanced and modern game design principles at play, including an incredibly reactive and relevant soundtrack. Gripping narrative moments as well as comical scenes bounce off of the incredibly dynamic tracks.

Finally, the narrative. The story of “Undertale” is progressive and modern, without being preachy and overbearing. You’ll find the question of morality, but it’s not shoehorned or self-righteous. It’s incorporated in a way that allows you to act on instinct, and rewards or punishes you accordingly, by presenting some incredibly emotionally gripping scenes and characters.

“Undertale” is genuinely a modern masterpiece, utilizing the style of an RPG to really give insight into some of the more psychological aspects of video game design. If you happened to miss it when the game was popular, now might be an even better time to give it a try!

This review was originally written for my school newspaper. For more of my written content, please follow my Facebook and Twitter pages, where there are 2-3 new posts per day. In the meantime, thanks for reading and come back soon for more from the GAME ROOM!!!

*Originally Published in the Penmen Press*

Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon Review

The first brother of gaming is back with his signature vacuum in “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon.” Step into the quivering shoes of Luigi, who is out to restore balance to Evershade Valley. The once benevolent ghosts of the land have gone mad thanks to the shattering of the fabled Dark Moon. Professor E. Gadd calls the one ghost buster he knows he can count on, and just like that the adventure begins again.

luigis-mansion-dark-moonWhile the first “Luigi’s Mansion” had a legitimately spooky undertone, this game takes a much more comical approach. A lot of Luigi’s style and movement are inspired by Mr. Bean, so one could imagine that he’s a very goofy rendition of this lovable character.

This game also has a more action-oriented approach, with a far more involved set of mechanics for ghost catching, including a button that unleashes a special attack.

Dark Moon offers a competitive/cooperative game mode called ScareScraper that allows players both online and locally to pursue the ghosts of a special mansion. This mode has a lot of ghosts exclusive to multiplayer, so there’s some extra completion value for those who want to play with friends and strangers alike.

The story mode of this game is filled with hilarious antics, with Luigi being one of the most reluctant heroes in gaming history. The world is working against him, as he almost never wants to go on the missions that the Professor asks of him.

To conclude “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon” is an incredibly quirky and character driven game, that really manages to bring out the best of one of gaming’s most lovable heroes. If you’re looking for a fun “spooky” Nintendo 3DS game to play this Halloween, this is definitely the title for you.

Another review for you, my Game Roomies! Thank you all for reading, and come back soon for more from the GAME ROOM!!!

*Originally Published in the Penmen Press*

Furi is a rare breed of game. It combines the classic “bullet hell” style of retro games like “Galaga” with the quick-witted parry dependent nature of a “Dark Souls” to make a great blend of action and tactics. This consecutive boss brawler has no grunts for you to do battle with. Just you, and the fierce warriors who stand to destroy you.


You star as a nameless protagonist, waking up in a prison and attempting to set yourself free. As you escape this cosmic entrapment, you will do battle with the guardians. These beings each have specialties and themes relating to the past of your playable character.

FuriWhether you’re zipping and dashing around the map to avoid an onslaught of enemy fire, or getting up close and personal to unleash devastating sword combos, you never stop moving in Furi.

This game requires a reactive and proactive mode of thinking. There’s room to wiggle on your style, albeit not much. If you decide to be more forward you can trigger attacks from enemies early on. Enemies have attacks that can be parried, and attacks that must be dodged. So there’s never room in this game for comfort to set in. In a sense this is part of what makes this game so intense.

Furi’s visual style and atmosphere are reminiscent of the stylings of “Afro Samurai” and some other older anime. It combines elements of urban themes with Bushido art, and some pretty deeply rooted philosophy. For instance, the old sage character in this game has headphones similar to “Dre Beats” on his head.

Smaller segments of story come in between the boss gauntlet as you’re given context for some of the characters before you proceed to battle them. This is narrated by a friendly character with an interesting perspective.

Furi has interesting combat, unique visuals, consistent style, and underlying culture. All of these elements make it an example of the truly great content a player can find in modern games. This title, available on PC and PS4 is well worth a purchase.

I don’t think there’s much else to be said. I know it’s been a while, but I’m going to be introducing something new to the site pretty soon so I can interact with you guys more regularly. In the meantime, thank you for tuning in and come back soon for more from the GAME ROOM!!!

I recently got Overwatch, and I’m so in love with it. It’s such a fun game to play by yourself or with friends. Blizzard really knocked it out of the park with this one. If you’re still unsure about the game, let me highlight the best things about Overwatch.

So, I know what you’re thinking: you aren’t good at first person shooters, so this game isn’t the game for you. I am someone who is awful at first person shooters. Though, in Overwatch, there’s so many different types of characters. It doesn’t really feel like a first person shooter at all. Sure the character I main happens to have a gun, but there are other characters who aren’t about shooting people. You can play as support characters, which are crucial to the team, or you can play as defense characters that are away from the action but still get kills. Characters I suggest for people who don’t like first person shooters are Mercy, Lucio, Symmetra, Hanzo, and Torbjörn.

Like first person shooters but you can’t aim that well? Soldier 76 is perfect for you. His ultimate is even designed for people who can’t aim. All you have to do is shoot in the general direction of a character. You might also like Junkrat seeing as he has a grenade launcher as his weapon. You don’t really have to aim at people, more like in the general direction people are at. You can also lay down traps which can help you get kills as well.

Want a game that is fun but challenging at the same time? Overwatch. That is literally Overwatch. Characters like Genji and Tracer are hard to master and it can be challenging going up against people who are good with those characters. Though, the game is still fun to play as you work together as a team and defeat the other players. It’s going to be frustrating at first but once you get good as a character, it’s going to be great. Not one game is going to be the same. That’s both fun and challenging. You always have to adapt to the situation at hand.

If anything convinces you to get the game it should be the cast of characters. They are all so unique and have their own story. Sure the story isn’t in the game all that much, all you truly get are some lines that some characters say to each other, but you can tell each character has a personality. You aren’t just playing as Soldier 76. You are playing as Soldier 76 who is way too old for this and he feels like he’s babysitting a bunch of brats. He says so many things during the battle that makes him more than Soldier 76. All these characters are so special. If you compare this to Team Fortress 2, you’re going to see that Overwatch has dynamic characters that just feel different than the ones in Team Fortress. I mean in Overwatch you can play a talking monkey name Winston and a spider lady, named Windowmaker, who snipes people. And all the characters are from different areas of the world. Pharah, a badass lady who flies in the air and shoots rockets, is Egyptian. Reinhardt, he’s a tank that hits people with a huge hammer, is german. Mercy, the team mom and angel healer, is Swiss. D.Va, a teenage gamer who has her own mech, is Korean. Reaper, an emo dead guy with a skull mask, is American. All these characters have so much too them.

From one person bad at first person shooters to another: get this game! You’ll love it, I guarantee it.

For more on Overwatch and other amazing products from Blizzard make sure you come back to the GAME ROOM! 

Every summer, I promise myself to fully complete five games I’ve never played before. So far, I’m treading along for this summer. I’ve completed Super Meat Boy, Asura’s Wrath, and DMC: Devil May Cry. It’s always such a fun way to immerse myself in the gaming world. Because of this proposition, I’ve completed many games I never planned on playing. This includes the likes of Golden Sun and even my favorite game Xenoblade Chronicles. 

infamous second son

One game I really want to pour myself back into is The Last Of Us. I’ve owned it for over a year, and I’ve seen the game from start to finish. Yet still, I myself have never done a straight playthrough. I love the mechanics. Yet still I find myself unable to see it through.

I really wish a new inFAMOUS game were on the way, because I’m craving action this summer. I’m sure that can be gathered from the games I’ve played so far. Asura’s Wrath was very spiritually moving for me on a deep level.

So I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m just talking about my personal gaming ventures. Because I want to make this a very interactive segment. Summer is one of the best times for students to game. Simple as that. Between journalism jobs, I like to sit down with a controller and truck through a favorite title.

So I’m going to challenge all of you. If you can find the time, try and play five brand new games this summer. With things like the Steam Summer Sale and PSN Midyear Sale, it doesn’t have to be an expensive venture. Find games, old and new alike, and play them.

I’m going to start blasting this challenge on my social media so I can encourage people to try new titles. In the mean time, this is the best I can do today. Tomorrow, an update on all of my entertainment posting on other sites! Thank you all for reading, and come back soon for more from the GAME ROOM!!!