Destination Primus Vita – Episode 1: Austin

Developer: Epsilon Games | Publisher: Green Man Gaming Publishing || Overall: 8.5/10

Destination Primus Vita – Episode 1: Austin is one of those games you’ll always have to copy and paste their full name because it’s too long.  When you have to have a dash AND a colon, you know you’re in for a “trip.”  Destination Primus Vita aims to be an episodic series of introspective analyses of characters who are off to fight the good fight against water-stealing rock aliens.  But enough about those aliens.  The real point of the game, at least with this episode, is the surrealistic simulation that our first character Austin is put through during cryosleep on a 4 year space trip.

While there are puzzles and exploration involved throughout, some fairly complex and unique, the main focus is obviously on the story.  The story is actually written pretty well, to my surprise, and is leagues ahead of the game I reviewed earlier this year, called The Station.  I was fully expecting it to go full ham or make some stupid political point, but it ended up just being a nice story wrapped in a science fiction foil.  The characters we were introduced to were all unique and also written very well.

At times, the puzzles were actually pretty complex and really made you sit and think about how to complete them.  There is also a nice variety of the type of tasks you have to do, even with some being timed.  As you complete certain rooms, you are introduced to memories in Austin’s past.  This changes the pace of the game as you take “breaks” from the main task at hand of researching armor to fight the “Shattered.”  During these interludes you’ll have to “make sense” of the memory by discovering details.  Some details do not appear until others are found, which can make these parts feel a little more linear.

Dialogue choices occasionally come up when conversing with other characters, prompting you to choose the correct ones to “progress” Austin with her relationships with them.  There doesn’t seem to be a payoff for getting these answers correct other than hearing what they say.  There might be some sort of point to this system once more episodes are released, but sometimes these things don’t come to pass with episodic games…

The puzzles usually require you to collect a set of clues to help you complete them.  There is always an exploration area that allows you to roam around, find clues, interact with the other characters, and find “mementos” that give information about the lore of the game, which is quite developed.  The developers took the time and care to create an interesting story and think through the aspects of how the events that occurred affected human civilization.   The only laughable thing is that despite rock monsters stealing practically all of the water from Earth, 400 years later the humans are still trying to find them and take back their water… without much of a plan.  It sort of doesn’t make much sense as they’ve been able to survive 400 years, have intergalactic space travel, and probably could just get water from comets or create it by collecting hydrogen and oxygen.  There’s a lot of those chemicals in the universe, by the way.  So it does seem a bit petty so long afterwards to go after the aliens “for the water,” when the goal of hunting down the Shattered should have been a bit more grander than that.  But, I digress.

The art, voice acting, and sound design really compliments everything else that’s going on.  The surreal mind program simulation thing ends up being a really unique storytelling device and a good excuse to just put whatever the fuck they want into the game.  The functional purpose of having Austin experience this simulation slowly reveals itself; it certainly didn’t make sense why they were doing it at the beginning of the story.  Many of the rooms started to utilize 3D space in such a way that walls became the floor and the ceiling would eventually be where the next section of the level was.  I was starting to get a headache with all of the angle turning, which doesn’t usually happen, but if you get motion sickness it can potentially be unpleasant.  As an aside, Austin’s voice actor reminded me of Claudia Christian from Babylon 5, which I am currently trying to get through.

Despite some of the misgivings about where the story may eventually lead, I did enjoy this title quite a bit for what it was.  It was a quick play of about three hours, but your mileage will vary.  It could probably be done in two hours.  I’m really looking forward to what’s coming next and hopefully the writers don’t get lazy along the way, otherwise it’ll be yet another episodic series that should never have been episodic.

 

My Brother Rabbit (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: Artifex Mundi || Overall: 8.0/10

My Brother Rabbit is a pretty standard point-and-click Hidden Object game with fun puzzles that have some challenging aspects.  The one thing that is far and away the best part about this title is its imaginative, hand-drawn style of art.  The lack of any dialogue throughout gives you a lot to play out in your head, but the “show don’t tell” aspect of the game is executed well, so you don’t misunderstand what is going on in the story.

While My Brother Rabbit feels and plays like a game for kids, the subject matter of the story isn’t made for them.  I wouldn’t recommend this game for kids under the age of 6 or 7, since some of the imagery is a bit on the surrealistic side with eyeballs and other less-than-friendly looking things. The story is about the Rabbit helping his friend, a flower lady, from the sickness she has by venturing through five different areas which have quite a bit of variety to them.  The “real-life” metaphor that plays out in cutscenes, is about a little girl who is struck by some sickness and the whole time you think she’s going to die due to said unknown sickness.

The game is mostly a treasure hunt; the scenes are packed with multiple collection items that are collected at different steps of the story.  For example, you may see some pearls that are clickable at the moment, but you won’t be able to start that collection quest until you complete another three collection quests.  This gives you a “new” reason to head back into the different scenes and look at them in ways you possibly hadn’t previously.  Most of the collection quests end in a light puzzle, which are variations of common puzzles you may have seen in other games.  I did get stumped a couple of times throughout the game and would usually have to quit and come back a couple days later.  Doing so usually allowed me to finish the puzzles in a way I hadn’t thought about before.

Spending about three hours on this game, it is definitely worth playing if you enjoy this genre.  While it isn’t as “exciting” as other Hidden Object games, such as a HOPA named Adam Wolfe it was still quite a bit of fun.  There are missable achievements as well, so the replayability, while limited, can be there for achievement hunters.

 

Squacklecast Episode 37 – “MoviePassed Away”

It’s hot.

We talk about lots of movies again. We explore the Quiznos/MoviePass relationship and revel in how MoviePass is somehow still in business.

Avengers: Infinity War, Mission Impossible: Fallout, Fast & Furious franchise all come up.

I did a “Denzel Washington marathon” of sorts where I saw four of his movies in a row.  We talk about his best movie, Ricochet, which includes this amazing scene:

There’s also a new Star Trek with Patrick Stewart being developed.  OMIGOD

We also talk about other things.

 

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (PSP) Review

Developer: Raven Software | Publisher: Activision || Overall: 8.5/10

(This review is more just a compilation of my notes on the game as I never got around to making a full review about 10 years ago when I was playing it.)

Marvel: Ultimate Alliance is a hack n slash, beat-em-up action RPG.  In the same vein as X-Men Legends II for PSP. Plays pretty much the same except its full of ridiculous cameos and super heroes I don’t really care about too much.

There are diverse levels with unique bosses.  It is a lot more interesting than X-Men Legends II, but the graphics aren’t spectacular, it is about on par with it, even though it was a launch title.  Loading is bearable and infinitely more improved, but still room to do better.  Since its basically a port of a console game, it isn’t exactly optimized for the PSP to begin with.

It’ll hold over any marvel fan’s interest for at least a while since its shameless fan service allows you to play with a wide ranging amount of heroes and beat the crap out of all of the different supervillains.  Only on PSP, there are 4 additional heroes and a couple of bonus gameplay modes.  The additional heres are Ronin, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, and Hawkeye.  There is online stats tracking while you are playing.  PSP-specific community web site with leaderboards and other statistics to look at about how you play.

Story lacks any real substance as it seemingly borrows heavily on pre-gained knowledge about characters.  If you don’t know shit about the heroes, you’re just going to get tired of seeing yet another new idiot in spandex.  Th storyline is sort of interesting, though, and keeps the gameplay going.

You can play co-op through the whole story or a specific mission with a friend online or over ad hoc.  The menu takes way too long to load to make it worth turning off auto-character management.  There is good voice acting, and most characters are voiced.  There is a “quiz machine” where you can test your comic book knowledge.  There is also a training simulator that allows you to complete extra “comic book missions” to build up character’s levels and acquire a costume.

Throughout most of the game, you are just going to be pressing X over and over.  There’s a weird sound bug that occurs when saving, and for some reason it needs to save two different files.  Why couldn’t they just store it all in one?  Rare bugs can make the game crash or act weird.  It even froze my PSP.

 

Every Extend Extra (PSP) Review

Developer: Q Entertainment | Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment || Overall: 8.5/10

(This review is more just a compilation of my notes on the game as I never got around to making a full review 10 years ago when I was playing it.)

Every Extend Extra is a fleshed out remake of the freeware PC game.  It is more like a “musical shooter.”

The loading is fine, but only prominent waiting time is during the beginning of starting a new game mode.  Retries are thankfully almost instantaneous with no loading.  There are several gameplay modes:  Arcade (normal, go through a series of stages), Boss Attack (boss rush to take on one or all bosses you’ve beaten so far), Caravan (play through a single stage), Original (contains the Light and Heavy levels from the freeware version).  It is not very clear on how to unlock levels for the Caravan mode.  I beat Arcade mode but only three are availablee.  Also, I have no idea how to access the Omega and Alpha levels or bosses.  There is autosave.  VS Mode – 1 on 1 over Ad Hoc.  Game Sharing shares a demo of EEE, which also contains a Lumines II demo.  Training Mode gives you the basics on mechanics but does little to teach you about what the game is all about and how to unlock levels and do better.

To play, you explode your bomb to create as many chain reactions as possible.  You collect the green diamonds for points, and more points extend your “Stock” allowing you to continue playing.  Red diamonds, called Quickens, give you more speed to move your bombs around.  You can change your bomb for a large blast radius.  Mini-bosses come along and try to kill you.  Yellow diamonds add more time and appear after defeating a mini-boss.  Bosses appear when you have around a minute left on the timer.  Bosses require a series of chain attacks before ultimately needing a certain amount of hits to be defeated.

The game can be hard to excel at.  you can trudge through with low scores, but getting “A’s” would unlock more levels… I think.

Music is very nice, speeds up with more Quickens you have.  Menu screen is a little less than exciting, including its music.  Graphics are great colors and eye candy that show off the PSP’s screen.  A pretty short game compared to Q’s other puzzle game offerings.  It is still worth having.

 

Book of Cool Volume 1 (2006) UMD Review

Book of Cool Volume 1 (2006)

Production Companies: Spirit Entertainment

Amazon Info

This is something I have on my PSP, I got it for review, but was always unsure how to review it.  It is a series of videos that show you how to do tricks with a particular sport or item.

I made notes on each video and how interesting they were a long time ago, but never got around to making a legit review.

Streetball – 7/10

A little movie to introduce you to the sport/people.  The shutter speed to show slow motion shots results in poor lighting because they shoot in the same light as normal shots.  There are 14 tricks.  5 have still picture instructions, and four are in slow motion.  You can watch the slow motion parts infinitely by themselves.  While they show you how to do the tricks, it doesn’t seem very feasible to do it very well just based off their instructions.  Many tricks are explained well but you have to really be trying or have a passion for trying to learn these tricks.  Most tricks are not for a regular person to impress people with and you’ll have to be in a game or practice with a partner to know if you’re doing it right from their instructions.  There’s also some weird shit about a kitchen.

Football – 7/10

Freestyle football.  It isn’t shot in widescreen throughout and changes aspect ratio.  Movie consists of “Mr. Woo” smacking the ball around for a good 10+ minutes without letting it touch the ground.  Pretty impressive and interesting to watch.  Mr. Woo has an accent which might make it hard to understand.  They added subtitles as well.  There’s no uniformity for this video, as the change of location and camerawork aspect ratio can either annoy you or break up the monotony of seeing the same location.  These guys seemed to use autofocus, so the focus can go in and out as they zoom in.  Subtitles aren’t in American English.  It’s more like a “how it works” rather than”how to do it.”  Sometimes camera doesn’t get the full trick for you to see.  It gets boring after a while.  There are 15 tricks, 11 with stills, 10 in slow motion.

Razor Scooter – 8/10

6 tricks, 6 slow motion, 0 stills.  This proves you can make an extreme sport out of anything with wheels.  Good instructions, shows you how to do it and you see mostly everything you need to do it.

Footbag – 5/10

8 tricks, 4 slow motion, 3 still.  Same song as Razor Scooter is used.  Freestyle footbag champion????  😐  Looks like he’s dancing, hard to see the footbag since it’s dark.  It is pretty boring to watch in slow motion unless you’re really trying to learn the tricks.  The setting is nice, at least.  Another guy explains as the other dude kicks the bag around.  BORING!!!

Frisbee – 9/10

13 tricks, 8 slow motion, 11 stills.  Some of the most ridiculous things to do with a plastic disc is here.  Nice setting.  There are a lot of shots with the guy in a blue sky void, though.  Good ways to throw frisbees if you don’t know how to throw them.

Street Soccer – 6/10

7 tricks, 7 slow, 4 stills.  Pretty much the same as “Fooball” but they show you some other tricks.

Pen Spinning – 7/10

12 tricks, 11 slow, 4 still.  This is probably the least interesting thing ever.  Pen modifications??? Almost comical.  It is more accessible to do these tricks than others, but it is really boring to watch.

Golf – 5/10

6 tricks, 6 slow, 3 still.  If you ever wanted to do stupid things while golfing, you found your starting point.  The audio is messed up at times.

Rugby – 8/10

7 tricks, 7 slow, 6 still.  Nice to learn about a sport that isn’t very popular in America and how to play.  It is pretty short, and unfortunately not very educational either.  It is hard to see the moves that are done.

Cards and Magic – 8/10

8 tricks, 2 slow, 0 still.  It is interesting to see how the “magic” works.  Gets sort of boring.  They go more into things that do with cards rather than magic

Skate and Blade – 6/10

11 tricks, 7 slow, 11 still.  Skateboarding and rollerblading tricks.  Poor lighting during the high shutter speed shots/slow motion very grainy and dark.  It is subtitled.  Sound has wind noises in it during some parts.  It teaches you how some of this stuff works, but highly unlikely to learn just from this video.

Casino and Cards – 9/10

22 tricks, 10 slow, 17 still.  Interesting stuff about casino tricks and what they do with chips/cards during games.

 

Joke #26100

The budget of a local monastery was very tight, so the brothers decided to open a fish and chips stand to raise money.  One day, a man knocked on the door.  When one of the brothers answered the door, the man asked, “May I have just an order of fries?”

“Hold on a moment,” said the brother who opened the door.  “You want the chip monk.  I’m the fish friar.”

 

You Might Be a Redneck If…

You Might Be a Redneck If…

…you are one armadillo away from a new pair of boots.

…you clean your fingernails with a stick.

…you never need a menu at Dairy Queen.

…something hisses at you every time you peer into your crawl space.

…the Salvation Army declines your mattress.

…your four-year-old grandson has ever said, “mommy won’t let me light the fireworks with grandpa’s cigarettes anymore.”

…you always take a penny but never leave one.

…your dog and your wallet are both on a chain.

…your child’s first words were “Attention K-Mart shoppers.”

…your wife’s “indoor voice” can be heard a block away.

…someone hits your parked car and you don’t care.

…your idea of talking during sex is “Ain’t no cars coming, baby!”

…your belt buckle weighs more than three pounds.

…you regularly light your cigarettes off a stovetop burner.

…you use a ShamWow as a doily.

…your wife has a beer belly and you find it attractive.

 

Rubber Band Darts

Materials: Rubber bands for each person

Number of Players: Alone or with a pal! (1-2)

What you do:

– Locate a convenience store with an assortment of hanging products on the slat walls.

– Shoot a rubber band at the supplies from across the room towards the wall.

– Depending on where the rubber band hits and lands, you get points.  Has to hit an actual supply item to count.

– Can be played for a certain amount of rounds or up to a certain amount of points.  Suggested: 10 rounds or 50 points.

Points:

Points are dispersed in two sets — by what the rubber band hits and what it lands on.  You lose points if you under-perform.  This is known as the “Hit + Land score” on a per turn basis.  A designated scorekeeper is preferred, but not required.

Hit…

4th row = +4 / 3rd row = +3 / 2nd row = +2 / 1st row = +1 / Nothing = 0 / Above or Below all rows = -2

Lands on…

Floor = -2 / On top of a shelf = +1 / Hangs on Something = +2 / Hangs on a slat wall hook = +3

Bonuses

Something Amazing! = +5

Penalties

Lose Rubberband = -100

 

Cashier Lesson – A Lesson In Sound Physics

A college convenience store is a magical place.  So magical, in fact, that proper physics do not take place!  Hence the word, “Magical.”  It is magical in ways that you can only experience as it happens.  Not through traditional scientific method, rather through make believe.  One of the major dictators of physics within your convenience store is the old lady who complains about noise coming from your convenience store.  For the sake of this article, we will call her Pamela.  Ms. Pamela runs the building your convenience store is located in, and within this building is the little world she has created.  Your convenience store is part of this creation, as your employer has rented a space from this lady and put you to work behind the counter.

One aspect of this magical building is the bending of physics of sound.

Ms. Pamela’s intentions are questionable.  Whether she is truly a human within a rotting sack of flesh or an alien in an unconvincing human costume.  Anyway, that’s for later.  The point of this lesson is about Sound.  And boy does it ever make no sense.

If you ever have the radio/music on while in your convenience store while Ms. Pamela is in the building, she will always come and tell you to turn it down — no matter what volume it is.  She claims that the sound waves from “the radio,” which is pointing toward the trash can, is actually bouncing up into the air ducts, through the elevator shaft and into the study room (that is about 30-40 feet away from your convenience store) in enough amplitude that it is possible to hear it!  Not only is this clearly bullshit, but simply impossible.  On many occasions, the radio is nowhere near as loud as the refrigerators and slushy machines that are inside the convenience store!

Because she rules the building with an iron fist and we rent the place from her, she wants to always feel like she’s in control of everything that is going on.  That imperialistic, alien, sound adept masterbitch.

 

Sunken Queen Mary (By Aliens)

In July 2022, maintenance of the Queen Mary fell behind.  Retrofitting of the 50 caliber artillery rail guns was behind schedule.  This was the tactical advantage the aliens needed to destroy The Queen.

In the midst of battle an ancient civilization, named the Risk and Insurance Management Joint Officiants Bond (aka RIMJOB), rose from the aftermath to challenge the aliens and reclaim what is rightfully theirs, the Workers’ Compensation industry.

Their leader, Grand Imperialist Sobby Mardon was soon hit with fraudulent longshore claims due to the sinking of the Queen Mary.  Eventually, Sobby Mardon employed the services of WeSuckAt Investigations to investigate these claims and was immediately regretful.  They sucked.

Moral: If you’re going to hire someone to investigate fraud, hire a good company.