Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Fallout Commercialism: A Look at Fallout’s Pre-War Companies

The wastelands of Bethesda’s popular RPG series Fallout are desolate and often dangerous places to be.  October of 2077 marked the end of the Great War when the entire nation was brought under by the blasts of nuclear weapons.  However, before the war, the world of Fallout was a different place, drawing similarities from the reality that we live in today.  This is especially prominent in the game’s pre-war companies that are often seen throughout the wasteland.  Lets take a look at some of these companies and their real-life inspirations.

Sunset Sarsaparilla Company

sunset sarsaparilla logoThe Sunset Sarsaparilla was a pre-war soft drink company that was well known for their Sunset Sarsaparilla soft drink.  The company was located in Las Vegas and the story of it’s creation was an interesting one.  The drink was created by a saloon owner who wanted to make a new drink flavor, but did not know what to make, turning to his saloon’s patrons.  No one gave any suggestions besides a stranger at the end of the bar that recommend a drink containing Sarsaparilla.  The stranger had a family recipe and wanted the owner to follow the recipe very carefully.  It was soon after this when the stranger fell victim to some bandits and died.  The saloon owner was mad at his luck, but found a bottle upon the Saloon’s doorstep with a recipe attached to the bottom.  It was for the Sarsaparilla drink, which after a taste, drove the owner to create Sunset Sarsaparilla.

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The drink is one of the few soft drinks that players can find in the wasteland, however, it was a common flavor of 19th century United States.  It was especially common in Hollywood westerns of the era, offered as a choice of drink in saloons that was usually mocked by the “manly” cowboys nearby.  This is funny, because one of Sunset Sarsaparilla’s pre-war ads contains a hefty man lifting weights with the slogan “Build Mass with Sass!” OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Sarsaparilla also contained its fair share of supposed health benefits as well.  It was said that if taken in larger doses, the drink could induce sweating which was regarded as a health benefit at the time.  In the game, Festus, an animatronic puppet, contradicted the healthy aspects of the drink, saying “Excessive ingestion of Sarsaparilla can lead to deleterious effects including, but not limited to: kidney damage, nausea, digital numbness, anxiety, loss of visual acuity, dizziness, occasional nosebleeds, joint inflammation, tooth decay, sore throat, bronchitis, organ rupture and halitosis.”

sunset sarsaparilla festus haggenSpeaking of Festus, the animatronic robot that can be found in Fallout: New Vegas, more specifically in the Sunset Sarsaparilla bottling facility.  He’s part of an interactive exhibit and largely used as a marketing tool for the company, introducing people to the drink.  Festus gets his name from Festus Haggen, a popular deputy on CBS’s western TV show Gunsmoke. The character is best known for his limited vocabulary as well as his lovable demeanor, which makes it easy to see where Bethesda drew its inspiration from for Sunset Sarsaparilla’s lovable mascot.

sunset sarsaparilla festus

Abraxodyne Chemical

abraxo containerAbraxodyne, a subisdiary of RoboCo Industries, was a popular pre-war company that specialized in cleaning products, like Abraxo.  If you have scoured the Capitol and Mojave wastelands, you have most likely seen these boxes of Abraxo cleaner in homes and other facilities.  Advertisements for the product can be seen adorning the walls of various supermarkets and other stores, featuring RoboCo’s Mister Handy cleaning a house with Abraxo abraxo adcleaner.  All it takes is a quick glance at similar advertisements from the fifties to notice the similarities.  The one glaring difference is Mister Handy taking the place of women, who were widely considered responsible for keeping the house clean and shiny.

abraxo real ad

Perhaps a lesser known product put out by Abraxodyne Chemicals is their Tastee Clean Sanitizer.  It was a small little device that could purify different foods and take some of the radiation out of certain items that you find in the wasteland.  It’s hard to believe that this kind of appliance existed before the war, but Abraxodyne Chemicals was a sub company of RoboCo Industries, which means that they had a lot of technology and research at their disposal to develop this sort of product.

abraxo sanitizer

In Fallout 3, Takoma Industrial was considered to have produced Abraxo cleaner before the war, evidenced by the 81 boxes of Abraxo that you can find littered throughout the facility.  Takoma Industrial is located in Takoma Park, a location in the Capitol Wasteland.  Takoma Park is an obvious reference to the real life Takoma, DC which is a diverse neighborhood containing mostly middle class families.  These days, the suburban town mainly serves as a historic district, but it once was known as a commercial hub, containing lots of shopping malls and industrial buildings.  The similarities between Fallout‘s Takoma Park and real-life Takoma can obviously be seen.

abraxo takoma

RoboCo Industries

roboco logoSince we already explored Abraxodyne Chemicals, I figured the next step would be a look at it’s parent company RoboCo Industries, one of the most powerful cornerstones of pre-war industry.  The company was founded by Robert House, the mastermind behind New Vegas.  Robert House is a successful business tycoon who is closely modeled after Howard roboco houseHughes, a famous American business tycoon and investor.  Some of Howard Hughes’ interests were in technology, more specifically aviation, aerospace, and defense systems, which is what RoboCo specializes in.  As Howard Hughes got older, he could often be found inhabiting the top floor penthouses of Las Vegas hotels, were he spent the later portion of his life.  The similarities between Mr. House and Howard Hughes could be considered coincidental, but the two are super similar.  Even portraits of the two tycoons are strangely similar.  They must have been photographed by the same photographers…

roboco hughes

Lets get back to subject.  RoboCo, like I mentioned before, the corporation had it’s hands in numerous design projects, from the purchase of REPCONN Aerospace to the design of the Pip-Boy, one of the most iconic items from the Fallout Universe.  The company is also known for its Unified Operating System, which was used on almost every computer before the Great War.

roboco openVMSThe Unified Operating System draws some resemblance from the real life OpenVMS system.  The operating system was common on the terminals of large-scale industrial companies from back in the day.  Some of the commands that can be seen on the terminals in the game, like “SET FILE/PROT=” and “SET TERM/INQ” are commands that can be used in the VMS system.  The terminals in the wasteland also bear a lot of the same characteristics of the computers from back in the day, like the green screen and the font of the text.

roboco uos

Pip-Boys are perhaps one of the company’s most successful products and can be seen on the arms of many vault dwellers.  Pip-Boy stands for Personal Information Processor and was a device that could store large amounts of information, as well as information that could be read from holodisks.  The devices were standard issue to all Vault-Tec vaults and they were improved with newer versions over time, much like any other device that we have today.  The Pip-Boy is a glaring example of the smart watch technology that we have today, and as the game’s designer Todd Howard playfully remarked, it was one of the first smart watches that ever existed.

roboco pipboy

roboco robby the robotFinally, the company was also known for their line of Protectron robots that specialized in defense, but could be put to manual labor as well.  In 1956 there was a Sci-Fi film called The Forbidden Planet, which featured hero Robby, the Robot.  Robby’s likeness was a source of inspiration for the Protectrons, which contain similar characteristics and weapons.

roboco protectron

There are a lot more companies that existed before the bombs dropped and I plan to explore these companies in future additions of this series.


What Got Me Excited At PlayStation Experience

It’s been a busy weekend for the gaming industry.  Friday kicked off the weekend with the presentation of The Game Awards 2014 in Las Vegas.  Then, starting Saturday, PlayStation took it’s turn with their inaugural expo called the PlayStation Experience.  It was a unique event that put the games in fan’s hands, with hundreds of demo stations and panels.  Sony announced a ton of new projects at the show, and they showed off some already announced games as well.  There was a ton of stuff that got me excited for the coming year for PlayStation.  Here is the stuff that caught my eye at the show…

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Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End (PS4)

Sony kicked off their keynote for the show with a massive gameplay segment of their favorite game series, Uncharted.  The fifteen minute demo of Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End showcased Nathan Drake walking through a jungle-esque environment, coming across a couple of mysterious skeletons.  The first thing that can be noticed is the amazing visuals.  The game looked stunning, and Nathan Drake looked sharp.  The guys at Naughty Dog have been doing a fine job.

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Then Nathan Drake stumbled upon a gang of enemies, which in turn caused things to go south.  We then saw a mix of combat and stealth, as Nathan maneuverd the environment with ease.  We saw him climb up rock faces, swing around with a grappling hook, and take down enemies using the environment as his defense.  The gun mechanics looked pretty good and overall, the combat looked generally fun.  Although, this looks like a game where stealth will be your friend.  There were a multitude of enemies that Nathan could not have taken down.  A combination of stealth and quick action got him safely away from the encounter.

The demo then ended with Nathan Drake narrowly avoiding getting pummeled by a avalanche of falling rocks.  When he got solid footing on ground, he quickly noticed a man that was waiting for them.  They both quickly drew their weapons, but there was no need because the two knew each other.  It turns out the man was actually Nathan’s older brother, voiced by Troy Baker.  Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End looks like an amazing game so far, and I can’t wait to see more of it in the coming months.

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The Forest (PS4)

It was announced that The Forest, which was previously a Steam early-access game, would be making it’s console debut on the PS4.  The game is a survival action game that starts you on a crashed plane that landed in the middle of a forest.  It’s up to you to figure out where to go from there.  You have to adapt to your environment and watch out for the locales, because they don’t really fancy your presence. I have not given the game a try myself, but now that it is coming to the PS4, I really don’t have a good reason not to play it.  It has some cool ideas and I am sure that it will be a great fit for consoles.

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Persona 5 (PS3 & PS4)

Persona 5, which is being developed by P Studio and Atlus, is part of the classic RPG series that puts you in the life of teenage students.  The series is known not only for it’s RPG elements, but it’s elements of daily life that the players have to control.  It was announced that Persona 5 was coming to North America for English players.  I have not played a game in the series myself, but I look forward to giving the newest game a try.

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Grim Fandango Remastered (PS4 & Vita)

Grim Fandango, released by LucasArts in 1998, has gained cult following.  The adventure game is about a grim reaper-like character who goes around the Land of the Dead.  The story has a lot of references to Mexican folklore.  The game was released near the end of the golden age of adventure games.  The game had a unique art style as well, sporting cartoon-like visuals.

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The Remastered version, which is exclusive to the PlayStation systems looks great.  Every aspect of the game is going to be remastered.  The audio, graphics, and more are all getting reworked for the next generation of consoles.  It makes me happy that I can finally try out the popular adventure game.  I am a huge fan of adventure games, and Double Fine looks like they are doing a great job with the remaster.

Day of the Tentacle: Special Edition (PS4, PS3 & Vita)

Double Fine and Tim Schafer were not done with their announcements at the keynote.  Schafer and Adam Boyes had one last announcement, and that was the special edition of the famed adventure game Maniac Mansion: Day of the Tentacle.  There wasn’t too much additional information given, but the announcement alone got a ton of people excited.  The game, which was released during the golden age of adventure games, has gotten a big cult following as well.  Once again, I have not played the game, but I am looking forward to giving the game a try.

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The Order: 1886 (PS4)

During Sony’s keynote, we got look at some more of the steam-punk style game The Order: 1886.  We got a trailer that showcased some cinematics, as well as some of the gameplay.  We got a look at a shootout that takes place in a kitchen.  The gun mechanics look pretty good, and it was clear that there will be a ton of quick time events.  What’s got me most excited is the concepts behind the game, as well as the game’s retro steam-punk look and feel.  I am looking forward to exploring London and seeing what else the game has to offer.  There hasn’t been to much information about the story, but the game has still caught my interest nonetheless.

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Until Dawn (PS4)

Until Dawn, a game from Supermassive Games, has been an intriguing game to me.  The story features eight teenagers who are spending time at a mountain resort.  However, a serial killer is out to get them, meaning they have to play the survival game.  What’s the most attention grabbing about the game is the gameplay style.  It’s most akin to Heavy Rain, the popular PS3 game that features a lot of quick time events.

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The demo that was shown features the girl who is played by Hayden Panettiere.  She is fresh out of the shower when a juggalo-looking character breaks in with a mission to kidnap her.  The rest of the demo consisted of quick time events and quick decisions with the mission of escaping unscathed by the kidnapper.  It was a thrilling and intense sequence.

Every decision that you make in the game will affect how the story turns out, and you can’t take anything back.  If you die in the game, you are dead for real.  You can’t bring anybody back and you can’t replay the segments.  This puts more weight on your decisions, and this can lead to a very deep and engrossing story.  I am looking forward to playing this intense thriller.  If the whole game is like the gameplay segments that they have been showing, it’s going to be a good one.

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No Man’s Sky (PS4)

Sony’s keynote at the PlayStation experience was far from the first time that we heard about the ambitious game from the small indie studio, Hello Games.  However, the more I see the game, the more excited I get.  During their PlayStation experience showing, they gave us a look at the true scale of the procedural generated world that players will be able to explore.  The planets that we will encounter and explore look massive, and probably bigger than most maps on your everyday game.  The trailer then zoomed out and revealed the mind-blowing size of the galaxy that surrounds the planet, before zooming back in to a totally different planet.  I can’t wait to get totally lost in No Man’s Sky’s world, a world that is too massive to explore fully.

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The Next God of War Game

The next God of War game was talked about at the God of War retrospective panel at the PlayStation experience.  Santa Monica Studio’s Cory Barlog was talking about it, saying that it is in the works, and that it will not be a prequel to the existing games.  This means that it could be a sequel, or even a reboot.  No other information was given, and it doesn’t look like the game will be coming out anytime soon either.  Either way, it still gets me excited for the future.  Will the next game in the series even star Kratos?  Everything is still up in the air at this point.

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A More Genuine Video Game Award Show

Over the past couple of years, video game award shows have been anything but special, or entertaining for that matter.  They have mostly been a bunch of PR babble and celebrities paid to act like they actually play and enjoy video games.  Spike TV has been the channel that has hosted the video game award shows over the past couple of years, but that was not the case for this year.

Geoff Keighley, a video game journalist of GametrailersTV fame, was the brains behind a new type of award show.  One that was independent, and free from TV.  It would be an award show for the gamers, run by gamers.  The industry would play a big part in them.  Thus, for the first time ever, The Game Awards was brought to life as an internet only broadcast, taking place at the AXIS Theater in Las Vegas.

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Numerous members of the industry, as well as journalists and fans alike, crowded the theater to watch the inaugural year of the award show.  For the first year, the show actually felt genuine, and not fake.  (However, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the audience cheer heard on the live stream was fake).  The Game Awards did a lot of good things, and they took some steps in the right direction.

However, after forty minutes and only one award handed out, you know there are still some problems that hover over the show.  The show had more of an E3 vibe to it than an award show.  There were countless “World Premieres” as developers showed off their newest trailers and sneak at games to come in the future.  There were some cool announcements here and there (including some new ones) but they mostly got tiresome as we hit the later parts of the show.  The show also lasted a whopping three hours.  It was a little on the long side, and their seemed to be a lot of filler that clogged up the show in between.

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With that being said, how about we actually get to some of the stuff that took place during the show…

The ceremony kicked off with a pretty neat musical performance by Koji Kondo, one of the main music composers at Nintendo.  He played the piano as Mario appeared on the big screens behind him.  It was a cool little retro homage to the early days of gaming.  Then Reggie Fils-Aime (the President of Nintendo of America), the crowd favorite, came out to start the show.  He then directed our attention to a video that had Shigeru Miyamoto highlighting some of Nintendo’s biggest releases coming next year, including the likes of Majora’s MaskMario Maker, and Star Fox for the Wii U.  The show was off to a good start.

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Kiefer Sutherland, who was the voice of Snake in the Metal Gear Solid series, came out to introduce the mastermind behind the series, Hideo Kojima.  Sutherland’s presence was actually a nice surprise.  His little talk about where games have come was even better.  Kojima gave us a little sneak peek at the new Metal Gear Online.  The little trailer showed some of the tactical strategies you can employ as a team to carry out your mission.  The game looks beautiful, but the online components don’t seem like they fit the Metal Gear style.

After that, we then got our first award of the night, which went to Trey Parker for Best Performance in a Game.  Trey Parker did a ton of voices for the game South Park Stick of Truth.  The best part about the whole thing was Tim Schafer, the presenter of the award, who cracked some jokes about the fake nature of past video game award shows.  It was actually pretty funny and clever.

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It was then Fullbright, a small independent studio known for their hit game Gone Home, who took the stage to give everybody a surprise teaser for their new game Tacoma.  Coming in 2016, the game looks like it has an retro art-deco atmosphere to it.  If it’s anything like Gone Home, it should be pretty interesting.

Then there were more announcements and sneak peeks, which was slowly becoming the theme of the show.  We got a look at Bloodborne, a PlayStation exclusive RPG that borrows a lot from the Dark Souls games.  We also got an announcement of Banner Saga 2.

Some other highlights of the show included EA’s Peter Moore, who came up to announce Hazelight Studios, a new development team working on a next-gen game.  We got a little teaser, but it only showcased two men on a train car looking off into the distance.  Nothing much, but still intriguing.  We also got a cool laser light musical performance that showcased some old video game music of yore.  It was weird, but a good kind of weird.

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Nintendo was the big winner of the night, taking home three awards by the end.  They won Best Fighting Game for Super Smash Bros for Wii U, Best Developer, as well as Best Sports/Racing Game for Mario Kart 8.  They also ended the show with an exclusive look at the next Legend of Zelda game for the Wii U.  The sneak peek showcased some of the open world traversal features that they were working on, as well as the scope of the game itself.  The game looked pretty, and the fans loved it as well.  Nintendo had a great night at the awards.

Probably one of the best moments of the show was when the Industry Icon award was handed out.  The new award was designed to honor icons in the industry who have put in a lot of work to get them to where they are today.  It was Sierra, the studio behind classics such as Kings Quest, that got the spotlight.  The founders of the studio, Ken Williams and Roberta Williams, received the award.  There was a video that showcased some of the work that the two worked on, featuring some of the history of the studio.  The two really deserved it.  They also brought out some developers working on the revival of the series, aptly named Kings Quest.  They gave us a look at the stylistic 3D re-imagining of the series.  Some thought that this game took the prize for game of the show.

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Some other notable awards included Best Shooter, which surprisingly went to Far Cry 4, Best Indie Game, which went to Shovel Knight, and Best Handheld/Mobile Game, which went to Hearthstone.  However, the award of the show, Game of the Year, was saved for the end.  Geoff Keighley came out on stage and announced the winner, which was Dragon Age Inquisition. The game, which has gotten high praise the past couple of weeks, seemed like a sure lock for the award.

The award show concluded with a nice, and surprisingly intimate, performance from Imagine Dragons.  It turns out that they are pretty big video game fans, as evidence by their performance of some of the music from the Legend of Zelda.  They were also joined by Koji Kondo, who played piano in the background.  Kondo was a good sport through it all, and it was a nice conclusion to the show.

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As I said before, the Video Game Awards 2014 was a big step in the right direction.  The show has rallied a lot of support from the industry, and it seemed like they were free of the PR antics that plagued past shows.  There is still a lot of work that needs to be done however to make it spot on.  Nevertheless, the show was still entertaining after all.  But, I got tired of “World Premiere” by the end of the show.  They need to cut that stuff out.

Here’s the full list of winners from the night:


GAME OF THE YEAR: Dragon Age Inquisition




BEST NARRATIVE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War


BEST PERFORMANCE: Trey Parker as Various Voices, South Park The Stick of Truth

GAMES FOR CHANGE: Valiant Hearts: The Great War

BEST REMASTER: Grand Theft Auto V



BEST ROLE PLAYING GAME: Dragon Age Inquisition

BEST FIGHTING GAME: Super Smash Bros Wii U





MOST ANTICIPATED GAME: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt




BEST FAN CREATION: Twitch Plays Pokemon