11.28.2016

Space Farter: Review

     Polish indie developer Fastfinger Games have created what amounts to the most entertaining runner game possible with Space Farter.  In an attempt to avert the most embarrassing disaster a person can endure, players must race the clock to the toilet before their bowels let out.  Using farts to assist jumps, and belches to eliminate traps and enemies, players make their way through dangerous pathways to the restroom.  Through 30 hilarious levels, players aren't just racing an interstellar case of IBS, they are desperately collecting all the toilet paper and food they can to stave off a colonic catastrophe on that trek.

(Note: The farting sound effects are NOT in this trailer)

     Space Farter has a good control layout, with the stop and go button with the "attack" belch button on the left, and the jump and slide buttons on the right.  The jump also can be double-tapped and held for a floating flatulation ability, and the run/stop button can be held during a jump to drop straight down.  The controls aren't just simple and effective, they add levels of complexity to the game.  The level design offers more than a singular route in later stages meaning there's a surprising amount of challenge and depth behind what amounts to an interactive fart joke.
     Though, I did notice some unresponsiveness that was frustrating at times with the double-tap and hold to float not triggering properly.  That problem becomes a little bit more of an irritation because there are some areas in levels that require extremely quick movements, and even the slightest lag or unresponsiveness can result in an instant death.  It isn't terrible, and isn't too often, but it is there as a small annoyance.

     On the whole, Space Farter is a game that, at first glance, might be overlooked because its silly juvenile material, but as someone that typically doesn't enjoy runners, I can honestly tell you that Space Farter gave me more than enough to keep me well invested.  The levels offer quite a bit of challenge, the art style is very clean and stylized, and the music keeps a good tempo for making the mad dash to the bathroom.  It also helps that the sound effects provide plenty of humor and giggles.  Intestinal distress hasn't been this fun or engaging for a long time, and I definitely recommend giving Space Farter a go.

     Space Farter is 99 cents on [ iOS* ] or [ Android ]
*Due to the iTunes guidelines, the game will launch under the censored name- "Space Farther"

Review copy provided, Thank you!

11.22.2016

NVRLND: Issue 4 Review (451 Entertainment)

SEX, DUST, & ROCK-N-ROLL

     Writer/creator duo Stephanie Salyers and Dylan Mulick have taken their 451 Entertainment comic series NVRLND and made it something extraordinary.  It's the timeless classic of Peter Pan, the boy who refused to grow up, but it's been completely re-imagined and steeped in the underground music scene of the modern era.  There's the typical sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll, and then there's a considerable amount of murder, magic, and mystery to fill it out- what more could we want?

TIME IS CHASING AFTER ALL OF US

     After the events of last issue, Peter and Hook have effectively switched places, they've swapped ages and power.  The once carefree, teen-aged rockstar Peter has become a weak and helpless shell of a person, while Hook has cranked up the confidence, taken action with newfound vigor, and cemented himself as a truly great villain.  Wendy, Peter, Tink, and all the rest have taken a back seat to Hook standing triumphant above everyone.  He has, without a doubt, become the shining star of the series.  Making this even better is the revelation about Peter and Hook's true relationship.  It was previously hinted at in issue 3, and it brings a dramatic change in the dynamic between the two, which will presumably be used in a future story.

TO DIE WOULD BE AN AWFULLY BIG ADVENTURE

    Hook's plan is still as ambiguous as ever, we have no real clue what he's after, or why.  He doesn't want to kill Peter, he wants him to see it all, and suffer the whole time.  We only know he's been peddling some black magic drugs, ruined club NVRLND, reclaimed the power of youth by stealing Peter's shadow, and has a some monumental plan to accomplish that involves crashing Tiger Lily's quinceanera.
     In addition, there was a brilliant misdirection during the battle between the gangs- The Lost Boys, the Pirates, and the Savages- revealing Hook's real target, and it was extremely well handled directly involving the crooked cop, and D.A. Darling's number one, Chief Lily.

SECOND STAR TO THE RIGHT & STRAIGHT ON 'TIL MORNING

     I really think the writing and story took a great turn, giving us some great action and interesting plot twists, but Leila Leiz's art feels a bit lacking from the last few issues.  Things aren't as neatly drawn, and Thomas Chu's color work is just a bit flatter than the previous issues.  Maybe there was a last minute rush to meet deadlines or something, I don't know.  It's not to say they are bad by any means, just that they were slightly off from the previous few issues.

     The NVRLND finale on the whole leaves us with a very abrupt cliffhanger, which is usually something that truly irritates me.  But here, it feels exactly like the end of a television season.  All the plot lines converge at Tiger Lily's coming of age party, and it gives us a proper turning point, as well as opening up vast potential for the future.
     As I've said before, NVRLND is a truly unique dark re-imagining that does something different and special with the idea of staying forever young.  It gives us the gritty reality behind the facade of the glamorous clubbing nightlife.  It shows us that if we look beyond the flashing neon lights and thumping music, things like magic aren't only found in that strangely enchanting place residing between waking and dream- and sometimes, that magic is black.

     NVRLND issue 4 hits stands tomorrow, Wed. Nov. 23, 2016.

     Reviews of NVRLND issues [ 1 ] [ 2 ] [ 3 ]

     Other [ 451 Reviews ]

     Link to 451 Entertainment's [ Comixology ]

     Official Sites [ 451 Entertainment ] [ Twitter ] [ Facebook ] [ Youtube ]

*Review copy provided, Thank you!

11.20.2016

Marvel's Inhumans: Thoughts on the Move from Film to TV (and in Video Games)

FILM/TELEVISION

     Just over a year ago, I expressed my extreme distaste for the rumor that Vin Diesel might play the role of Black Bolt in a film of Marvel's Inhumans.  Thankfully, in April of this year the film had been pushed back from its original July 12, 2019 release, and then completely cut from Marvel's film schedule.  Which is the good news.

" . . . "  - Black Bolt.
     The bad news, however, is that instead of getting a movie quality film featuring the royal Inhuman family, we'll be getting another ABC series.  The first 2 episodes will be shot on IMAX film and aired in IMAX theaters in early September 2017, prior to airing on ABC.
     I've made it well known that I think Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is crap, it's quite terrible.  Even with all the headway the Robbie Reyes Ghost Rider has been making, the show is still not nearly as great as it should be.  It gets 2 steps ahead and makes 5 steps back.  They need better writers and better directors.  Seriously, the showrunners have lost the magic of what made Agent Coulson so appealing in the movies.  The same can be said about Agent Carter.  They need to go back and study what made these characters special in the movies and focus on replicating it on television.
     Skye/Daisy/Quake gained some powers and went from hacking-as-a-semi-superpower to master combatant.  It's absolutely preposterous.  Fitz and Simmons are in the same boat- everybody is now an action star, leaving no differentiation between characters.  That's very poor story telling.
     And that's exactly why I'm very worried about the Inhumans being handled by a team that relegates their characters to daytime soap opera status.  We want things at least to have the quality the Netflix shows have.  The interpersonal relationship drama and angst is far too abused in S.H.I.E.L.D., maybe they need to focus on small tasks and awesome Mission Impossible type subterfuge as opposed to all the damn overused world threatening crap.  For Inhumans, they should simply adapt the 12 issue Paul Jenkins and Jae Lee run.  Keep it simple and meaningful.   A tightly knight story with a huge payoff.

     As for Diesel in the main role- thank goodness at least Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn doesn't believe he'll do it.  Which is great.  He has all the emotive facial acting talent of a slab of beef.  They would be much better off hiring someone like Jason Isaacs, or Christopher Meloni.  Or both and have one of them play Blackagar Boltagon's brother Maximus.  Get talent that can give extremely expressive performances without needing words.

GAMES


     I've been playing Marvel Heroes for a couple years and we'll finally be getting Black Bolt in game soon.  It's super exciting and I hope they've got him done correctly.  I mean, he's super fun in Marvel Future Fight, so I can only imagine the larger game will have him slightly better.  Obviously a mobile game poses a lot more limitations than PC games, so they'll have more opportunity.
     I'm also hoping we'll eventually get his Earth X costume pictured below for both games.


     Source [ Marvel ]

11.11.2016

Ginger: Beyond the Crystal: Review

     Ginger: Beyond The Crystal is a new 3D platforming adventure game brought to us by Drakhar Studios, an indie game developer out of Spain.  The game hearkens back to a time when Super Mario 64, Banjo Kazooie, and Conker's Bad Fur Day reigned at the top of the charts.


     It's the story of Ginger, a small blue being tasked by a mysterious goddess with restoring a world beset by the destruction and corruption of the world's crystals by an unnamed menace.  The main game itself is broken into 3 major hub worlds that each contain 5 core side-scrolling levels and another 5 smaller red crystal platforming levels, as well as a bunch of miscellaneous fetch quests, some time trials, and so on that add some extra gameplay substance.

     To restore balance back to the world you must go from town to town clearing the map by not only purifying the red crystals into blue ones (via the platforming red crystal levels), but also by collecting the smaller blue crystals to be used as currency.  The first way this is done is spending them at each hub world town's giant main crystal to bring back the townspeople that had been transported to somewhere far away.  Upon their return however, they are less than pleased with things that've happened, which leads to the second way the small crystals are used- to buy vanity items for the people to use to increase their happiness.  A pair of Groucho glasses with their silly nose, moustache, and eyebrows can add quite a bit of joy to a waning public opinion.
     There's also a small additional building game where you slowly gather supplies through the other levels and tasks and use them to build structures of your choice throughout the towns. I haven't been able to discern exactly what they do other than take up space, but for city-building fans it may be a highlight.

     Ginger combines elements from multiple game genres such as platforming, collecting, and some city-building and then adds the Metroidvania staple of unlocking new abilities (via costumes that give extra skills) you can use to access more regions and items.  There's a mouse suit that lets you shrink through tiny areas, a lizard suit that spews fire, and a bard's outfit that opens a mini-game where you have to play back a button combination song on your instrument.  The exploration of the main hub worlds is extremely entertaining as there's always something you can do, and is probably the highlight of the game.

     The controls are very responsive and my only complaint about it is with the combat.  There's a lot of enemies that need to be dispatched and the normal attack is useless resulting in taking damage every time you deal damage.  The dash attack is tough to aim or land properly, and that leaves us with the only effective way to eliminate bad guys being the jump-and-stomp attack that gives out a shock wave you can see.  Sadly, that's the only attack I used because it was the only reliable one that didn't get me killed.

     In the essence of honesty I have to say that there were a few other annoyances as well.  Not being able to skip (or speed through text) was a big one.  It's very sluggish and having to sit for so long after reading each piece got irritating.  I also noticed that in the red crystal purification levels, there was a tendency to occasionally fall through the ground.  It didn't set me back too far, but it did bother me when it occurred seconds before the final crystal of the level.  Lastly is the camera.  Often, I found myself plagued by a camera that was obscured by objects in the way and trying to adjust it constantly was a pain.  Having things go consistently transparent so I could see would've been a massive benefit in those cases.  But, as I said, these were really just annoyances and not too awful in the bigger scheme of things.

     It may be a little glitchy at times, but falling through the floors and death never set you back more than a couple minutes and that fact is far outweighed by the sheer fun factor, which is all of what my younger self would want out of a game.  Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a decent game with a lot of heart and charm to fill in where it lacks.  It should be clear this game may appear shallow and repetitive for adults, but the game's whole design is pretty clearly aimed at a younger audiences, and that's exactly where it shines.  The graphics and music are fitting, the world is designed with plenty of creativity, the characters are all uniquely made, and the world itself has a lot of options for exploration.
     Ginger: Beyond the Crystal is a game made purely for simple enjoyment, with many nods to its 3D platforming predecessors.  It's a delightful homage to the games of yesteryear, and it offers an imaginative world that is quite immersive and highly entertaining despite its few flaws.

*Review copy provided, Thank you!

11.08.2016

Megalo Polis: An Election Day 2016 Review

     After the entire last year of Presidential campaigns and their ridiculous shenanigans- we can make light of this extremely absurd election process with a wonderful satirical game called Megalo Polis.  The game tosses you into the role of one of this year's candidates with the seemingly simple goal of becoming the next President of the United States of America by going out on the political trail, and it becomes our job to convince the public to vote for us... by any means necessary.


     To start, you choose whether you want to run as a Republican or Democrat.  Each party gets a special bonus the other doesn't.  Republicans earn an extra $5,000 a minute while Democrats have a higher population conversion rate.
     Then you get to choose who to run as, and any character can run as either party.  For the playable characters there's the big two, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but there's also Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and inexplicably, Obama himself, attempting to run for an impossible third term- and what better way to show support for your candidate than campaigning as them?  Each character receives their own pros and cons aiding or hindering the ability to sway certain social classes.  Trump has a harder time convincing the educated, but gains an extra aggressive bonus to the speed in which he can take over opponents' district, and Hillary has a tough time convincing people due to trust issues, but starts with a lot more funding.

     Players need to go from district to district, and state to state in a race to the White House gathering as many supporters as possible and locking them down.  The more districts loyal to you, the more money you make, and in turn the more you can spend on gaining even more followers.
     To help garner even more support players can complete challenges to earn cards that act as special abilities like jailing your opponent for a short time, developing a smear campaign, or creating a scandal to hinder other candidates.


     The caricatures of the candidates and their silly-voiced soundbites are a comedic treat, and the way developer Black Sheep Studios handled them all is fantastic.  Though the highly repetitive nature of the same handful of lines over and over does become a bit grating over time, the bright and colorful cartoonish visuals never get old.  They were just as good at the end of my playtime as they were at the beginning.

      Overall, Megalo Polis is a hilarious RTS strategy game that holds quite a bit more depth than I first gave it credit for.  Attempting to gather new followers and thwarting the opposition might be the surface game, but understanding all the types of classes and districts you need to influence really alters the game.  Add on top of that the fact that you can both interfere with others and they can impede your progress through all manner of small ways with the cards you collect- and the game does fill out with nice complexity.  I must also point out that there's also a lot that isn't spelled out in the tutorial that you must learn on the go, such as the fact that to receive money from your districts you need to walk back to them- it isn't automatically added to your campaign fund.
     Megalo Polis is definitely not something anyone might play for days on end, but it is a surprisingly great binge treat to waste a few hours playing while we await the election results.  Who knew it was so fun to play as a manipulative, corrupt, and patronizing politician trying to persuade the public I am the prime choice?

     Official site [ Megalo Polis ]

     Megalo Polis is available on [ STEAM ]

*Review copy provided, thank you!