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Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness, and Bananas (PSVita) Review

February 27th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games | No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Disco Pixel || Overall: 6.0

When Dave first contacted me to play a rhythm-based game featuring orangutans searching for their stolen stash of bananas, I was more than excited to brush off my old Jungle Beat Drums to play Donkey Konga 3: The Search for More Hard-to-Find Wii U Accessories. I was prepared to camp out for the official attachment that would end up being scalped left and right, due to limited supply from Nintendo, all to play a game that some have been waiting nine years to play. Then Dave told me that the game was actually called Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas, that it was on the PlayStation Vita, and it had nothing to do with the loveable banana eating kidnapper …

Happy DongSad Dong

My before and after pictures, respectively.

Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas is an iOS port, featuring some extra content, of a rhythm-based action game that challenges you with reclaiming the stolen bananas of the Mofungo tribe from an aggressively red-colored rival tribe. The game uses a four-beat rhythm to have you perform tasks from moving, to attacking, and to ultimately defeating the rival tribe and reclaiming your tribe’s bananas. Overall, playing to the rhythm will ultimately decide whether your teams of simply-drawn monkeys succeeds or if the opposing team of simply-drawn monkeys does so instead.

Graphically, Jungle Rumbles isn’t really much to look at in action. While the attempt to give the game a particular style is there, it falls flat before achieving any notable flare. What’s left is a rather simple art style that tries it’s best to be simple and cute, but does not possess the small intricacies to achieve that goal. Don’t get me wrong, the game is nice enough to look at, but it appears rather stiff and lifeless when in action. The monkeys seem to perform the same repetitive actions ad nauseam for whatever four-beat command you manage to perform to the point of monotony. It’s a shame too, with a few more variations and perhaps a creative idle animation the art could have been much more pleasant to look at.

Red Light
Like in any good game of Red Light, Green Light, it only
screws up while in motion

The music in Jungle Rumble is serviceable, which would be alright if it weren’t for the fact that music is sorta the most important part of rhythm games. While games like Lumines are remembered for their sweet techno beat, games like Dance Dance Revolution have catchy J-Pop, and even Donkey Konga tickles at the nostalgia bones by playing through classic Nintendo beats, Jungle Rumble seems content with providing a four-beat-rhythm that simply repeats infinitely and calls it music. To add (or subtract), the rhythm itself hardly changes between levels to any noticeable degree. On a better note, the meeps of the monkeys, the sound of a coconut hitting its mark and other sound effects add charm where the art and music does not.

Gameplay-wise, Jungle Rumble has the honor of using the Vita’s least used gameplay set-ups, which involves turning the Vita vertical, to good effect. While this set-up took a bit to get used too, I found it particularly useful in the game’s many scrolling levels to have the screen longer as opposed to wider. The game itself is controlled completely with touchscreen commands and its manipulations through the game’s four-beat rhythm. For example, to move from tree to tree requires the simple alteration between your starting tree and the tree you wish to move to. To throw a coconut requires you touch yourself three times (hehe) and the enemy once. Moving two spaces is much like moving one but requires an added touch on the third beat and a final touch to the far tree you wish to land on. Unfortunately, this is about as complicated as the game gets and I found myself expecting more when there was nothing left. Furthermore, the fact that each maneuver requires you to adhere to the previously mentioned 4 beat rhythm made me constantly get further out of tempo as I had to wait for the rhythm to repeat itself before starting another command. This was only further hindered by the fact that someone thought it would be a good idea for the game’s visual helper, colored circles and a tiny ball that bounced to the levels beat, to disappear after a few successful repetitions, making it the harder to get back into rhythm as I waited for it to reappear. Thankfully, I didn’t have to deal with that for long.

Fear
If playing games in new and interesting ways scares you, then
stare at the face of FEAR!!!

Jungle Rumble, while simple, is also very short; the five dollar prince tag will get you about two hours of gameplay. The content consists of three worlds filled with various stages that are easy to complete. While the game’s grading mechanic of a bronze, silver, and gold medal offer some replay value, overall it doesn’t add much more time to the already short game. Though, if two-hours-plus of content justifies five dollars is up to you.

OneThird
You’re looking at about 1/3rd of the game
right here.

Overall, Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas feels like a game that had a lot of good ideas that never truly came to fruition. The game never really seems to hit its stride, whether it is the art style that only looks charming when still, the rather forgettable “music,” the sometimes frustrating 4-beat commands or just the game’s short length. While not a horrible game, it perhaps could prove useful as a way to break into rhythm games for the uninitiated.  Personally, however, Jungle Rumble: Freedom, Happiness and Bananas is not something I would look forward to.

Barrel of Meh
More like a Barrel of “Meh..” for me.

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Squacklecast Episode 22 – “U Is My Luv”

February 14th, 2015 Posted in Media, The Squacklecast | No Comments »

On this special Valentine’s Day episode of the Squacklecast, we take a hard look at what makes Valentine’s Day tick in our personal lives.  A hate for Candy Hearts and no luck with girls doesn’t prevent us from giving you, our listeners, the very best in dating advice that one can offer when they have absolutely no success or experience in dating.

gross

gross

We talk about what sort of pictures you may encounter or want to have on your dating profile, and what sorts of things an unsuccessful profile (dave’s) has.  We also talk about what things NOT to say when you are “flirting” with a potential match.

Taking pictures at the DMV is also covered.

DMV

DMV

A couple of crazy work stories are also mentioned.  Some random customer wanted to “track down” Kevin Smith, the director, and call him on the phone or something to get him to do something.

Kevin Smith’s movie Tusk is discussed a little bit.  And we talk about Mike Tyson as an actor, as well as a little bit about the movie Enemy with Jake Gyllenhaal.

We take a Buzzfeed quest for some god-awful reason.  Candy Corn vs. Candy Hearts debate.  Candy Corn tastes like “not even a good eraser” and Candy Hearts are just compacted chalk.

There is also a “poo physics” lesson.  More Transformers/Michael Bay confusion.

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Hand of Fate (PC) Review

February 17th, 2015 Posted in Game Reviews, Games | No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Defiant Development || Overall: 9.5/10

Hardware Used: Windows 8.1, i7, Nvidia GTX 780, Xbox360 Controller

New trends such as Kickstarter and Steam Early Access have made feasible genres and products that theoretically may not have been available otherwise. With investment on the front-end rather than the back-end, some game developers take this opportunity to fill in very specific niches which may (or may not) further garnish interest and investment. Hand of Fate is a product of this investment trend in the form of a deck-building card game featuring action-based combat.

The set up for the story is you are challenging a talkative mystic to a card game, sitting across from him at a table. You get thrown right into the game, moving your piece across a set path of cards on the table with a boss at the last level. As you make your way through the first couple of bosses, you slowly learn the flow and mechanics of the game and learn more about the Dealer himself and the origin of the card game. With further progression you assemble the pieces of the story that each card tells and how they relate either to your nameless character or the Dealer himself. Hand of Fate begins to feel more like a throwback to an old adventure game with a narrator as you start to settle into the gameplay.

As you progress through the board, you primarily get items, equipment, or encounter scenarios. How well you do dictates what gear you get and how easy the action-oriented encounters can be. While you will primarily be spending your time at the table, you will port into encounters to beat up enemies and, eventually, bosses via action gameplay. The best comparison I can make for these interludes is something like a grounded God of War. That doesn’t mean you can’t feel quite powerful depending on the gear you get, though.

These action encounters are really only one part of the greater picture, but they are very important to successfully complete as competently as possible — namely not losing health. The action gameplay takes a little bit to get used to, but is mostly satisfying. Normal swings with your weapon feel like they “snap” to one enemy and you don’t cleave other enemies who seem like they should get hit as well – this is counteracted by being able to quickly “switch” targets around and stun them with a shield (if equipped) or counter an enemy ability. The combat seems to be mostly based on your ability to counter and dodge attacks and when to use special abilities (if you have any) as there are no combos to perform. The combat doesn’t feel flat, but can feel a bit like spamming one button over and over — this can take the fun out of it if you prefer at least some sort of alternate attacks despite there being special abilities that are on long cooldowns. You can also stun with your shield and it is required to interrupt an enemy’s impending attack in certain cases. Sometimes you sort of fly at enemies that are a couple of steps away due to the way the “snapping” is designed, which can be a bit jarring but ends up helping you more than not.

Encounters include combat, mazes, and shops. The locales in the combat are a bit varied, but you’ll begin to notice you see the same ones pop up over and over which allows you to familiarize yourself with the maps, which inevitably helps you. Traps are also set on the maps which can hurt both you and your enemies, so you may have to strategize exactly where you can run and which direction to dodge to. Mazes use these traps (and other unique ones) to hurt you, the motivation being to get through with minimal injury and to the treasure at the end of the maze. Shops allow you to buy health, buffs (called blessings), food, equipment, and remove debuffs (called curses). Depending on your progression and when you stumble upon a shop, it can be a game changer.

Since the overall goal is to essentially prepare your character for the boss, doing terribly in one of the encounters could swing a good game into a bad one. As with other rogue-likes, death is permanent and you will lose the current progression of your run and have to start over if you end up failing. Any tokens you earn from cards will be yours to keep regardless of the outcome, which unlock more cards to play with.

The Dealer reveals (and you are shown) early on that there are twelve bosses to progress through. For me, it was pretty smooth sailing for the first five bosses, but the sixth boss I felt a very large difficulty jump. Where you notice this difficulty jump could potentially be different for you depending on how many cards (and which cards) you unlock, but you’ll begin to notice that chance takes a very big toll on your progression. Some cards have a 25% chance to succeed, while others require you to have two lucky 25% draws. Most of the chance games require you to choose between four cards, but other chance-oriented games involve actions you take in a given story scenario. Depending on if you memorize what card does what you can mitigate chances towards the desired outcome in a story scenario.

Rogue-like progression takes charge in unlocking more and more cards as you naturally play. As long as you accomplish a particular card’s challenge you’ll attain a token which rewards you more cards. These cards may or may not be able to unlock further cards, which adds to the amount of encounters and equipment you can acquire in the game. There will be cards that you’ll have to encounter multiple times before you get lucky or remember what didn’t work last time before you’re able to acquire the card’s token. This can get subtly frustrating if they are based on chance on top of choosing the correct prompts.

Graphics and sound are also boons to the overall experience. Character designs and animations work well with each other with a cartoony “flavor” to it. The more unique character designs come from the Lizardmen and Mages, while other characters in the game such as Thieves and Skeletons leave a bit to be desired in the style department, but serve their purpose fine in the end. The soundtrack is enjoyable and properly matches what is happening on the screen. The table has ambient music and little sound effects for every time you activate a card. I also experienced no noticeable frame rate drops or graphics issues during gameplay.

Hand of Fate is fun to play, but in the end what is it that actually tries to excite you to come back for more? The challenge is certainly there and despite being a bit frustrating at times, you do get a sense of accomplishment when you finally take a boss down. But what is really fun, unique, and even mysterious about the game itself is one thing: the Dealer.

The gameplay of Hand of Fate seems to become only a tool in learning about the character of the Dealer. It is almost as if it is a character study when he says little tidbits about himself or what the purpose of certain things are, such as the card game itself and who he has played against before. He also voices a very strong opinion about in-universe-specific problems such as fake fortune tellers and other strange outbursts. As you replay the game over and over you’ll notice that you are hearing him say a couple of things repeatedly but for the first four or five hours, almost everything is unique, and he will usually have a little blurb for each new card.

The Dealer’s fluid animation is interesting as he will occasionally play with his bracelet or make amusing gesticulations. What primarily sells the character is the voice acting, which is perfectly executed in the context of this game with the voice actor chosen. You also learn a little more about the Dealer himself from the set design. The slowly panning camera reveals what is on the table, and the halls where the game is taking place are able to be inspected a bit. The progression in the game itself seems to head toward a particular goal, but without taking wild guesses (or cheating and reading spoilers) it isn’t outright predictable.

Game options may feel a bit sparse. You can only choose between Story Mode and Endless Mode. Endless Mode allows you to play with all of the cards you’ve acquired so far, which allows you to grind out locked cards. Endless Mode diverts from Story Mode’s rules in that every level you progress you draw a bad card which can be a Curse or something less impactful like loss of gold or health. The point of this mode would technically be Leaderboards, but I was using it to grind out some cards to unlock since I was having a lot of trouble with the sixth boss (and finally beat it before writing this review).

Also related to game options is a curious lack of character customization for the avatar you use in the encounters. It would be one thing if the avatar you play as were characterized, but since he is seemingly vacuous, it feels like something is missing in that regard. It doesn’t take anything away from the gameplay, really, but if they were at least somewhat randomized each time as far as the face/skin tone went it wouldn’t feel as large of an oversight – I’m just left wondering why the avatar you play as looks like that and what his purpose is. Part of the mystery, to me, is whether or not the Dealer actually sees “you” or the “avatar guy” sitting across the table from him.

Being that Hand of Fate has been available via Early Access, it has seen many changes: balance, UI, and otherwise.  There are also plans for DLC, such as extra cards which would expand the gameplay down the line.  It will be interesting to see just how much gets added by way of DLC and what impact it has on the game as more additions are made.

Hand of Fate is a very enjoyable game and a unique experience. Pushing on and completing the game, as well as unlocking all of the cards, can prove to be a time-intensive and challenging endeavor, but with hardly any harsh criticisms to be had about the game it isn’t a particularly daunting proposition. Hand of Fate is available for PC, PS4-PSN, and XBone-Live — console versions are available for download at 4 PM.

A reviewable copy of Hand of Fate was provided to Squackle.

-~-

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Squacklecast Episode 21 – “The Week-Late Year-End Review”

January 8th, 2015 Posted in Media, The Squacklecast | No Comments »

Hey everybody!

We recorded a “Year-End Review” Squacklecast towards the end of 2014.  Then things happened and I didn’t have a chance to post it!  So now you can listen to something we recorded two weeks ago!  How cool is that?

We talk about what was good about 2014, I think.  We also talk about the Sony hacks a little bit, The Interview, Phase 2 of the Marvel movies, The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies, and some other stuff.

We also rank all of the Hobbit movies and the Lord of the Rings movies.  We also talk about Star Trek.
Sorry it was so late and I don’t even have pictures cause I was so lazy!

Okay fine, this one, I liked:

James-Franco-in-The-Interview_article_story_large

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Quote #23724

December 8th, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

“I wanna get married with someone who is white lol and love me the most and have kids,big dog but puppy,and kittens. And live in small house <3 ”

– from a girl’s dating profile

-~-

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Quote #23723

December 8th, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

“I’m serious and please don’t think I’m sexually attractive because I hate to hear that and I’m just being honest ”

– from a girl’s dating profile

-~-

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Squacklecast Episode 20 – “The Empire Skypes Back”

December 6th, 2014 Posted in Media, The Squacklecast | No Comments »

HEY WHATS THIS??  It is a new Squacklecast.

When I was naming this episode, I thought I was so clever, calling it “The Empire Skypes Back” due to our issues with Skype that we had during the recording that I discovered this little gem:

 

 

Anyway, this Squacklecast we had the Unnamedhero, also known as “Ed”– who has been mysteriously writing some game reviews for Squackle — on the show as a guest.

We principally talked about three teasers.

The Jurassic World Teaser:

The Star Wars Teaser:

Terminator Genniysisieriguiowt:

 

We ended it probably earlier than we wanted and having to repeat the same things over and over than we’d like, but at least we got the point across that Dino Lord shouldn’t sport the ‘stache in whatever next movie he does.

Until next time, folks!

-~-

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Quote #23717

November 2nd, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

I am independent but far from being a feminist. I like a manly man with a good mix of chivalry/swag(for lack of a better word) Basically, a man who will open the door for me but smack my butt as I walk by.

– from a girl’s dating profile

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Squacklecast Episode 19 – “The 18th 15th Anniversary Special Edition”

October 18th, 2014 Posted in Media, The Squacklecast | 1 Comment »

October 18 is Squackle’s Anniversary!!!!!!!!  It is now 15 years old!!!!  Holy shit, does anyone even care???

As a special celebration, special guest and special friend of Squackle.com, Charlie Sheen is with us today for a special Squacklecast!

The following is also talked about:

Halloween and Halloween movies.  We go over Rotten Tomatoes’ list of Halloween movies.

Great Pumpkin

South Park’s newest season.

Black Dynamite was mentioned.

Old Cartoons, like Wacky Races, and other 60’s/70’s-era cartoons, as well as Tom & Jerry.

Tom & Jerry was recently remade, if you weren’t aware, so we started talking about bringing back older cartoons as new series, such as:

The 2011 Thundercats. Masters of the Universe the movie and that newer Masters of the Universe show.

If I could bring back a show for a reboot, it would be Street Sharks.   Make it live action!!  WHY NOT.  Swat Kats would also be cool, wouldn’t it?

Street Sharks

Street Sharks

Or rebooting Reboot.

We also dote upon the history of wiping after pooping.

The Random Wikipedia Article of the day is this thing:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Sindhi_festivals

Also, kids in movies (and life) suck.

I Hate Children

I Hate Children

 

Mauvais sang is one of those movies we watched in film class.

We also review our current Netflix Queues and how we tackle our movie viewing schedules.

Thanks ya’ll!  15 years down the drain.  Here’s to the next 15 years.

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Quote #23709

October 11th, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

ATTN: Don’t hit me up if you are not ready to go

I love to suck****and ball and ride a big****until it cum to book me its 15 b4 i leave my house and 50 dollar when i get to ur house its for 1 hour please have ur address and cell # ready if your not bookin me today do not message me please don not message me for convo u will get no reply thanx now let me come milk u”

– from a girl’s dating profile

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Quote #23704

September 1st, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

Hello there :). Im Carmen :D

Well here’s the dealio LOL. Umm Im kinda in a messed up situation right now and I really need some help and well lets just say I can return the favor… Sort off. LOL.

Anyways, here’s whats happening right now in my life. I moved here for college and I’m going into business and I didn’t really have a place to stay. I had a couple hundred dollars so I ended up leasing an apartment and I never knew that If I didn’t pay the monthly rent I’d be screwed financially. I’ve actually been looking around for a job and right now I can’t really find one anywhere and my friend gave me the idea to sell my nudes that I took for my BF for his birthday and he’s not getting them for obvious reasons ;)!.

I have about 600+ pics and a video I made for him but he’s not getting them anymore LOL. He left me for this fat chick and I guess thats too bad for him. Anyways so I set up this online shop place where you can get my stuff, Its actually right here: <spam URL here>”

– a spammer’s profile on a dating site pretending to be a hot girl

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Quote #23703

August 30th, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

My Self Summary

“DONT ASK TO KNOW ME ASK TO PAY ME..U THINK I CARE ABOUT STUPID RELASTIONSHIPS OR SQUARE SHIT …I’m foxx I like tats Fashion money cars cloths nd girls I hate gay dudes meaning street dudes that like anal.. #nasty#downlow#notcool… stay away anal likers”

You Should Message Me If

“U tryna get money turn up.. see sum strippers I hate dum questions I’M a escort let’s clear the air… so don’t ask ..talk money lean pills and dro.. that’s the only thing im into..fucc u getting to know.me or me knowing u..let’s get to the point”

– from a girl’s “dating” profile

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Quote #23700

August 20th, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

Fair warning when your with me I want to be paid attention to I am like bringing a puppy home, I get lonely and I love like a dog I will always be there win you need me and will stand by your side if you love dogs you’ll love me…

– from a girl’s dating profile

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Squacklecast Episode 18 – “Leaked Avengers Comic Con Video”

August 2nd, 2014 Posted in The Squacklecast | No Comments »

This episode we talk about that LEAKED AVENGERS COMIC CON VIDEO you have heard all about!!!!!

There’s also talk of Guardians of the Galaxy, movies from 1995, and several other fantastic things, like all of the things you see in the following pictures:

guardians-galaxy-650-430 Internet_in_1995_1 Nicole-Kidman-Batman-Forever-promo-shoot-nicole-kidman-and-naomi-watts-aussie-bffs-15062945-618-768

See you next time!!!!

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Quote #23693

July 31st, 2014 Posted in Quotes | No Comments »

“In order to get along with me, you have to be an ***hole. Not a full-blown ***hole, but not a non-***hole either. If you’re half an ***hole, we’ll get along just fine.”

– from a girl’s dating profile

-~-

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