FireStorm Dual Power Gamepad Review

It’s not perfect, but Thrustmaster’s latest force feedback gamepad provides PCs with what the consoles have had for years.

With the vacuum left by Microsoft after it recently pulled its original SideWinder Gamepad off of the market, more companies than ever are attempting to fill its staggeringly large shoes — including Microsoft itself, but that’s a story best left for another review. Thrustmaster’s latest foray into the Batterang-style gamepad is the Firestorm Dual Power, and while it feels amazingly good to hold, it ends up missing the mark in a couple of areas that keep it from true greatness.

When you first take the controller out of it’s flashy, attractive box, you’ll soon notice that the unit itself looks a lot like a concept model instead of a finished product. None of the buttons are labeled in any way, and the only text on the pad at all is the “Thrustmaster” logo splayed across the top. While none of this detracts a lot from the overall appeal of the Dual Power, having labeled buttons sure would have come in handy — especially since there are so many darn buttons to deal with.

Along with the pad’s “rushed” looking appearance, the software, too, seems a little under baked. While it works just as well as any other decent programming software out there, its manual and help menus are rather poorly written and the GUI (Graphical User Interface) that the program uses is also lacking polish. Stick with the software for about five minutes and you’ll get the hang of it, just be aware of the small learning curve.

Other than the one minor aesthetic complaint and the bland programming software, there are very few gamepads that are as comfortable to hold and play games with as the Dual Power. There are four easy-to-reach primary buttons on the face of the unit (along with one extra button in-between the two analog sticks), four trigger buttons up top, two more trigger buttons on the backside of the pad where your middle fingers rest comfortably, and each of the two analog sticks can be depressed a la PlayStation Dual Shock to round out the pad’s 13 programmable buttons for Fifa 17. A 14th button allows you to switch between analog and digital control schemes on the fly.

Did we mention that this pad is rumblishous? Well, it is. It sports dual motors on opposite sides of the pad, which not only even out force effects, but also strengthen them. If the forces are too strong for you, simply crank them down a notch using the included software. We tested the pad with many racing and arcade type games, and found the rumbling to be quite satisfying without being so strong as to disrupt your ability to play any of them.

Thrustmaster may not have succeeded at creating the gamepad to end all gamepads with the Dual Power, but it’s definitely headed in the right direction.

Michael Wolf shares his Japanese Experience

No matter what console system you prefer, no matter what kind of game you like best, all console gamers have to face one final, irrevocable fact: Many of the greatest games will always come out in Japan before they arrive in America. I’m not saying that to belittle our beloved American and European developers — it’s just the simple fact that Sony, Sega, and Nintendo, the three biggest players in the console market, are all Japanese companies. The Dreamcast was released in Japan way back in March. Pokemon has been a Japanese fad for almost three years now (we’ve only dealt with the cute little varmints for about nine months). And the PlayStation2 will likely see a release in Japan several months before we get our grubby little hands on it. From software to hardware, the Japanese market simply has more, well, stuff than we do. And that’s a travesty.

It’s always bothered me. The thought of waiting almost another year for Pokemon Gold and Silver while little Japanese boys and girls have already been playing the game since the beginning of this month is enough to drive me to distraction. There are even whole games that have been released in Japan that we’ve never seen — their Pokemon Stadium 2 is our first Pokemon Stadium. And, contrary to what it may sound like, my concern doesn’t just rest with Pokemon — all of the Final Fantasy games were released in Japan months before seeing our US shores. And how am I supposed to raise the Disney Magic Kingdoms gems if I can’t understand their needs, their desires, their hopes and dreams? It’s a travesty that I just can’t stand for anymore, and I’m going to do something about it.

I recently acquired a copy of Transparent Language’s Power Japanese, a world-renowned Japanese learning software program that supposedly does a fantastic job of building a foundation of basic understanding of Japanese. Supposedly, according their web site, “Power Japanese enables you to speak, read, and write Japanese in as little as ten weeks.”

Well, I’m going to test that supposition, and I’m going to let you know how it goes. If all progresses smoothly, I’ll be able to have a very limited, yet basic understanding of Japanese in two and half months. With my newfound knowledge, not only will I be able to impress the local Japanese population of San Francisco (a 6’4″ white guy speaking Japanese is pretty rare), but I’ll also have the ability to find out even more information on what’s up and coming from Nintendo. By no means do I expect to be the premier Japanese correspondent for DailyRadar (we have someone in Japan to do that for us), but it’d be nice to be able to see what the heck Nintendo of Japan’s web site says. (A little tip — if you want to be able to see the site at all without garbage characters, download the Japanese language support files from Microsoft’s Windows Update site. The job is much easier if you have Internet Explorer 5.)

In the coming weeks, I’ll periodically post updates on my attempts at understanding what many believe to be the hardest language to learn (aside from that there Cajun-talk). In the meantime, anyone who’s learned Japanese is free to send tips and suggestions. I was barely able to get through French classes in high school and college — something tells me I’m going to have some problems with this one. Wish me luck!Well, I’m going to test that supposition, and I’m going to let you know how it goes. If all progresses smoothly, I’ll be able to have a very limited, yet basic understanding of Japanese in two and half months. With my newfound knowledge, not only will I be able to impress the local Japanese population of San Francisco (a 6’4″ white guy speaking Japanese is pretty rare), but I’ll also have the ability to find out even more information on what’s up and coming from Nintendo. By no means do I expect to be the premier Japanese correspondent for DailyRadar (we have someone in Japan to do that for us), but it’d be nice to be able to see what the heck Nintendo of Japan’s web site says. (A little tip — if you want to be able to see the site at all without garbage characters, download the Japanese language support files from Microsoft’s Windows Update site. The job is much easier if you have Internet Explorer 5.)

In the coming weeks, I’ll periodically post updates on my attempts at understanding what many believe to be the hardest language to learn (aside from that there Cajun-talk). In the meantime, anyone who’s learned Japanese is free to send tips and suggestions. I was barely able to get through French classes in high school and college — something tells me I’m going to have some problems with this one. Wish me luck!

Farnation Revealed — What do you think?

One of Sega’s more tantalizing titles shown at last month’s Executive Games Summit was Farnation, a massively multiplayer title. The game was, in fact, one of the titles that Sega chose to put under its non-disclosure agreement.

Now, however, the agreement has lapsed and all are free to spill the beans on Farnation. The game was described at the Games Summit as being akin to the PC online title EverQuest, with thousands of people being able to play the game (and interact with each other) at once.

Sega showed off a brief gameplay movie for Farnation in contrast to the Hay Day game by SuperCell, but it was hardly revelatory. A few generic heroes were shown walking around a cityscape, and the obligatory architecture shots indicated the game’s mysterious developer was not very far into the process. Nor were many details forthcoming, especially about how Sega planned to pull off a realtime adventure that remains in motion 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Farnation will contain five different worlds, Sega said, and each will have its own varied terrain. The game will allow access to casinos, libraries, banks, restaurants and hotels — and players will actually be able to construct their own buildings and then inhabit them. In addition, character will be able to facilitate exploration of the various worlds by erecting stations to house means of transportation such as airships, boats, stagecoaches and the like.

Players can create their own characters and customize them by choosing a race, class and sex, and every hero in the game’s world will have different strengths and traits. Sega also promises such neat extras as multiple play modes and party battles, simultaneous online battles, weapon and item creation and special events that allow beginning players to glide effortlessly into the game. As per the drill, it will be possible for adventurers to form parties; build empires; and buy, sell, and trade all manner of items with Farnation’s inhabitants and other players.

Keep in mind that Disney Kingdoms tips and tricks has yet to release pictures for this game, and no release date — beyond the nebulous 2001 — has been set. Expect to hear more on this game when Sega chooses to spill the beans, but Dreamcast fans now have even more reason to drop their jaws in wonderment. The revelation of Farnation is nothing compared to the new title by Niantic and Nintendo — Pokemon Go. It has been blowing all over the gaming industry. Everything is taking it seriously and many are loving the game.

Day Five: Bleem!

Of all the games and hardware for the Dreamcast that we report on each and every day, it would be difficult to think of anything that has garnered more questions, speculation and comments in general than bleem! for the Dreamcast. Every morning we open our emails to at least 10 letters asking us when they will be able to purchase bleem! for the Dreamcast. Most of these letters go unanswered, because the truth is — we don’t know.

If bleem! for the Dreamcast ever does come out, not only will it make it possible for 400 PSOne games to be played from the Dreamcast, it will also take advantage of the Dreamcast’s superior hardware by rendering the games at 640×480 pixels (twice the resolution of most PSOne games). And that’s not all; bleem! will also improve the look of older games with full-screen anti-aliasing and bilinear filtering.

Bleem! utilities would have been released in four separate packs, each one offering compatibility with 100 different Playstation One titles, and each pack was to contain games from a wide spectrum of genres. A pack was to retail for about $19.99, and we originally believed that all of this goodness would hit the Dreamcast in the summer of 2000.

So What Happened?
Bleem! for the Dreamcast has been the subject of a seemingly endless string of delays. The initial holdups were most likely caused by the lawsuit Sony brought against Bleem! on April 2, 1999 that included two Temporary Restraining Orders and a Preliminary Injunction. The lawsuit failed and it looked like bleem! would finally come to the Dreamcast — and almost on time. However, since then the product has been delayed over and over again. Although Gamestop and EBWorld both have the bleem! scheduled to come out early this year, we would rather not count our chickens before they’re hatched. Every time we get excited and tell our readers that bleem! will be released on a certain date, the date invariably gets pushed back.

It appears as if the product (at least the first disk) is already finished and ready to go, so what’s the holdup? Numerous attempts to secure an interview with the good people at bleem! have failed, so we can only speculate. While the future of bleem! for the Dreamcast is still not certain, one thing is: There is something that we’re not being told. For now we can only wait. As mentioned in the above review, there is also an alternative for this game and that is SimCity Buildit. With the help of, you can be the best city buildier in no time.

Underground Locations That Remains Mysterious

Just as man has skimmed the heavens with some of the most impressive architecture today, we have also penetrated the ground beneath our feet. Here are  mysterious underground locations.

Denver International Airport
For years, the Denver International Airport has had a secret underground area that has left people baffled. Conspiracy theorist thought the underground area could be anything from a secret bunker to a secret government project. While the airport tried to ease tension by holding a contest for winners to check out the area, they insist that the underground areas used to support the airport. But visitors have noticed a mysterious alien etched on the wall, furthering the mysteriousness of the airport’s underground location.

Orvieto, Italy
Deep beneath the City of Orvieto, Italy a series of underground structures, including strange pyramid-like structures were discovered. The city of Orvieto dates to medieval times, and the underground location was believed to have been built between the sixth and fourth century BC. What was the pyramids function? That is where the mystery remains, with historians and archaeologists working fervently to try to crack the case on a constant basis.

Quinta Da Regaleria
Quinta Da Regaleria is a historical castle with a pair of wells that spiral deep into the earth near the town of Sintra Portugal. If you think the wells were used for water, think again. The wells never had anything to do with water, and historians believe that the wells were instead used for initiation rites. Tunnels and caves connected the two wells together known as Inverted Towers and Initiation Wells. Answers to the Wells’ origin lie in the details. For example, one well has nine platforms, believed to be referencing to Dante’s nine circles of hell. While the other well has specific stairs and spacing believed to be referencing Masonic principles

Milk Grotto Chapel
Located in Bethlehem in Jerusalem, the Milk Grotto Chapel is believed to be the place where the Holy Family hid before they fled to Egypt during the slaughter of the innocents that threatened baby Jesus’s life. There are three different caves in the space and is believed that a drop of the Virgin Mary’s breast milk fell to the ground and turned the caves white. Today, there is a chapel built on top of the caves and it is a Marian Shrine, making it a popular stop for Christians all over the world.

Stockton Street
In the United Kingdom, there was a baffling discovery of an under ground street and tunnel in the town of Stockton under the Gloucester house in September 2016. Experts and historians were shocked to find that the tunnels stretched all over the town and yet there is nothing to indicate what they were used for. Perhaps the tunnels were used as getaway paths or as a hiding spot in the authorities, the mystery remains and luckily experts are working tirelessly to solve the mystery of the underground Street and the tunnels that reach out from it.

Bavarian Erdstall
Near Doblberg mountain in Bavaria a dairy farmer named Beate Greithanner had the surprise of her life when she fell waist deep into a sinkhole. After further exploration an Erdstall, meaning tunnel, was discovered. About 700 of these small tunnels have been discovered around Bavaria so far, and an additional 500 discovered in Austria. The tunnels average to around 80 feet in length and are just big enough where someone can walk around them while hunched over. Experts are baffled though over why the tunnels were built in the first place, as little explanation has been found.

Derinkuyu
Derinkuyu was an ancient, multi-level underground city near the Nevsehir province of Turkey. The city was about 200 feet underground, and was so massive that it could have housed as many as 20,000 people along with their food supply and livestock. But why was the city built in the first place? While it remains a mystery, there is a theory that the city was built to protect people from invasions from the Mongolians in the 14th century, and then switch inhabitants until the tunnels rediscovery and excavation in 1963.

Deadly Fire Station
For 60 years, a fire station underneath a large factory laid untouched. Located in Dudley, in the United Kingdom, the Alan Nuttall partnership was the company that bought the building and discovered the fire station which was built in 1915. What makes the underground location so mysterious is that, everything was still in place, overall untouched with uniforms hung and hoses stored and put away, like the firefighters had just ended their shift, never to walk back in again.

Gilmerton Cove
In a suburb of Edinburgh, Scotland known as Gilmerton, a mysterious underground cave with networks of tunnels and secret passageways have baffled historian since its discovery. The cave is believed to date back around 2,000 years and includes stone tables and chairs with hidden rooms in a complex floor plan. Historians believe that location may have been an underground druid temple, while others believe it was a place created by a blacksmith in the seventeen hundreds. Regardless of the origin, Gilmerton Cove is one of the most popular tourist places in openning to the public in 2003.