Hawthorne Heights – If Only You Were Lonely (2006) Review

I like this album, though it’s a lot mellower than their previous album, “The Silence in Black and White.” Most of the songs were slow to medium tempo with only a couple songs being fast. I hope the next album has a faster overall feel to it though. There are a lot of songs on it that would qualify as some of my favorite songs of all time.

Song Ratings – Overall – 4/5:

This Is Who We Are – 5/5
We Are So Last Year – 4/5
Language Lessons – 4/5
Pens and Needles – 5/5
Saying Sorry – 5/5
Dead in the Water – 5/5
I Am On Your Side – 5/5
Breathing In Sequence – 5/5 – This was probably the song I listened to the most.  Very catchy song.
Light Sleeper – 5/5
Cross Me Off Your List – 4/5
Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears – 5/5
Decembers – 4/5

 

AFI – Decemberunderground (2006) Review

As a big AFI fan over the years, Decemberunderground is definitely a huge difference from their previous albums. I view the album as more of an extension of Sing The Sorrow, which took me a while to get used to, but when I did I couldn’t stop listening to it. Same goes for Decemberunderground, but the “getting used to” period was definitely longer this time around due to the screaming and integration of more electronic sounds.

Song Ratings – Overall – 5/5:

Prelude 12/21 – 3/5
Kill Caustic – 5/5
Miss Murder – 5/5
Summer Shudder – 5/5
The Interview – 4/5
Love Like Winter – 5/5 – Very catchy song, the best off the album.  I couldn’t stop listening to it for a loooonnnnnggg time.
Affliction – 5/5
The Missing Frame – 5/5
Kiss and Control – 4/5
The Killing Lights – 5/5
37mm – 4/5
Endlessly, She Said – 5/5
Rabbits Are Roadkill on Rt. 37 0 – 5/5

 

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies (2015) Review

Game-Loading-Logo2

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies (2015), directed by Anna Brady/Lester Francois

Production Company: Studio Bento | Length: 85 min | IMDb || Rating: 8/10

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies is a documentary on the modern indie game movement. Not unlike something you may see on an informational cable channel, the documentary takes a specific aspect of the gaming industry and peels back the different layers to see what is beneath. This documentary is primarily focused on a smattering of the social, philosophical, and human elements of the indie game movement, and less so about the games themselves.

Throughout GameLoading: Rise of the Indies, we are primarily presented with a few recurring indie developers; Davey Wreden (Stanley Parable), Zoe Quinn (Depression Quest), Rami Ismail (Vlambeer) and Robin Arnott (Soundself) primarily drive the overall tone and base of the documentary.   A wide-range of diverse indie game developers and people who are famous historically for their indie roots (John Romero and other founders of id Software) also make an appearance and drive along some of the overall points in the documentary. A lot of people from different aspects of coding, from education and into the very niche corners of indie game development also offer insight into what motivates them or what their goals are and what challenges they face, including sexism, social media trolls, and of course, money.

The tone of the first roughly 30 to 40 minutes of the documentary is setting up the basis of what indie games are, who these people are, what their philosophy is, and what the motivation for doing what they’re doing is. You instantly feel a romanticized and articulated quality to nearly everything that is going on, and at times it can feel like the documentary is sort of dragging its feet in moving on from this introductory phase due to how this first piece is structured. They intersplice the stories of Davey Wreden and Robin Arnott with all sorts of other random game developers giving their small tidbits of information to expand upon a particular point. It can be a bit hard to follow the narrative of the documentary at this point because you are not sure who you are actually really supposed to be invested in paying attention to and who you are going to see repeatedly.

A big thing missing in the first chunk of this documentary is a conflict to keep the viewer invested in what is going on. You don’t realize that the primary focus of the documentary is Davey Wreden until much later.  Considering the game had released in 2011, it was a bit disorienting to finally figure out about halfway through that the Stanley Parable had been on the cusp of release while the documentary was in production rather than taking place after its release.  If the documentary were structured a little bit differently, it could have framed the Stanley Parable as something that was impending release during this segment to create a slowly progressing storyline as the narrative base since there is no narrator to provide that structure.

We learn a lot of interesting tidbits about the thought process behind the Stanley Parable, and as we are introduced to and follow that game’s progression, we also follow Soundself. Other games such as Depression Quest, Cart Life, and Analogue: A Hate Story among others, are profiled in the same fashion, though not as in depth as the Stanley Parable or Soundself.

Overall what the documentary helps us learn is about the philosophical and human elements of these games as an outward expression of the developers themselves. Giving these games a human element gives people a reason to connect these products with emotions and events in real life. In the context of this documentary, most of the indie developers view their games as interactive art projects and storytelling devices. The whole of the documentary focuses on these indie “art” games, and less so any of the indie “pure game” games, which primarily focus on level design, controls, and the concept of “fun.” While mentioned where necessary, the “pure game” games are definitely not the focus here which elevates the purpose of the documentary to something that seems to be selling “indie games” to someone who doesn’t normally play them and also may not find one of those “pure games” as fun or interesting. Which is FINE – it is an interesting look at this segment of games regardless, but the flaw is that the documentary unfortunately doesn’t take a tempered approach to both of the main draws to the indie scene when it calls itself “Rise of the Indies.”

Another large part of the documentary is the different events/conventions that are introduced. There is a small piece on an event called the Fantastic Arcade, but the main event of the documentary is GDC. Leading up to the GDC, there is an interesting coding event called the Train Jam where people form teams and create a game within a 50 hour train ride from Chicago to San Francisco where GDC takes place. We have a quick overview of some of the games being quickly developed on the train and Zoe Quinn takes part in some of the festivities. I thought this segment of the documentary was very interesting and it was cool to see how things like that happen. While it wasn’t supposed to be a huge focus of the documentary, it would have been nice to see a little bit of a more in depth look at what was going on.

Overall the documentary looked very good. It seemed professionally shot and I didn’t notice any terrible lighting or editing issues (for reference, I am a video editor so I notice these things). There were some questionable backdrops where a couple interviewees were against a completely white backdrop and Ben Kuchera from Polygon was in a seemingly empty office in a tall building of some sort. The frequency of the cuts between different people during the interview portions prevented the documentary from having time to breathe at certain sections. I also thought they could have completely cut out a couple of people and/or interview cuts because they added nothing to the overall information in the documentary. It would have been nice to be a bit more focused on fewer secondary interviewees instead of including a lot of extra random people who are of questionable value to the overall product. An interesting aspect of the documentary seems to be that there are a lot of people with different colored hair, with the primary color being pink. There is sort of an “alternative” lifestyle being sold in this documentary and the interesting looks and clothing people wear in the documentary fits into that quite well. While not everyone they interview is going for that look, there are enough in the documentary where you begin to notice it as a theme.

At a running time of 1 hour 25 minutes, I thought GameLoading: Rise of the Indies was interesting overall and a nice introduction to deciding whether or not you may want to get into the indie gaming industry itself as a hobby or otherwise. It was less informative about the technical and day-to-day aspects of indie gaming, with an idealized look at the culture and events of the indie gaming scene instead.

GameLoading: Rise of the Indies can be purchased on Steam, iTunes, and other gaming storefronts.

A reviewable copy of GameLoading: Rise of the Indies was provided to Squackle.

A trailer for the documentary can be seen below:

 

 

The Coffee Fires

There once was a man who became an arsonist.  Orson the Arson was a coffee-drinking fiend and would take caffeine pills by the handful before going to work in the morning.  He worked at a coffee shop in Los Angeles.  The traffic in the morning was pretty boring to sit through, as you could imagine, and for every five minutes he was stuck, he would take an extra caffeine pill.  All in all, he pretty much ingested 100 caffeine pills a day before going into work and drinking The Canoe of Coffee, the specialty drink of the coffee shop Canoe Coffee.  It was literally a canoe filled with coffee.

At Canoe Coffee, there were many other caffeine addicts who lazed about all day, drinking a Canoe of Coffee.  When a caffeine spike kicked in, the customers were regulated into the Rumpus Room where they could swing from trees, canoe down a fake river, and battle mechanical tigers and lions.  There was one time when Tiger 89 malfunctioned and almost gnawed off a customer’s leg, but since they signed a waiver saying anything that may happen in the Rumpus Room stays in the Rumpus Room, they were trapped in the Rumpus Room forever!!!  It was like a jail, but everyone got to point and laugh at the delegged customer who was renamed Deleggy the Legs.

Deleggy the Legs was given a desk and a computer so that she may browse the internet.  She had a wireless mouse and it wouldn’t work so she called the front desk and asked for a corded mouse.  Unluckily for her, it was Orson the Arson who picked up the phone.

“DELEGGY, I DON’T KNOW WHAT A CORDED MOUSE IS, LEAVE ME ALONE.  I DO NOT KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT TECHNOLOGY I BARELY KNOW HOW TO USE THIS PHONE.” Orson screamed at Deleggy.

Orson hung up the phone, and that was that.

Across the street, Canoe Coffee’s competitor Kayak Coffee served the Kayak of Coffee, which was literally a kayak full of coffee.  They were having their “buy one for the price of three sale.”  Kayak Coffee’s marketing of their event was pounding Canoe Coffee’s sales the whole week and they were falling behind, as they do every year around this time.

Stan Jinjam, the owner of Canoe Coffee, devised a plan to take care of Kayak Coffee once and for all.  He would replace all the coffee at Canoe Coffee with Green Tea!  Green Tea was super disgusting and no one likes it.  Canoe Coffee would go out of business in a day!

It was around that time that Jenny Sanzdfit, owner of Kayak Coffee, devised her own plan to put Kayak Coffee out of business – replacing all of their coffee with melted butter.  Canoe Coffee would go out of business in less than 3 hours!

Orson the Arson had other plans, though.  He couldn’t work somewhere for very long without burning it down, since he was insane like that.  Canoe Coffee and Kayak Coffee would both be good targets considering they would probably blame each other for the mess he created.  It was the perfect plan, especially since they were both planning on destroying the others’ business to begin with.

That was the day when The Three Leaf Clover Gang made their move into the coffee industry.  The Three Leaf Clover Gang was pushed out of the hard drug business by rising prices on gasoline, and they just couldn’t afford to keep their cocaine supply chain AND pay for gas for all their cronies.

In the middle of the night, behind Kayak Coffee, Orson was dumping gas on the persimmon trees that would start the fire.  On the other side of the building, Jake “Kidney Stone” Marauder was placing explosives.  He had already wired Canoe Coffee and was planning on blowing them both up at the same time.  Little did either know of the other’s plans until they bumped their backs into each other.

“Who are you!?” Jake yelled as he placed his hand on his pistol.

“Who am I?  WHO ARE YOU??” Orson screeched in his high-pitched caffeine voice.  Orson was waving his gas can around in the air.

“What are you doing with that can of gas?”

“What are YOU doing with those explosives?”

“I’m burning this joint down, I’m an arsonist!”

“I’m blowing this joint up, I’m a mobster!”

Orson was very confused.  “A mobster?  Look buddy, this is my score.  I need to see something burn, and soon, and your explosives are going to get in the way of my basking in the heat of fire.”

“Your score?  This is our turf, we’re moving in, buddy!  If anyone’s going to destroy these coffee places it’s gonna be us!  We need to make a statement!” Jake poked Orson with his finger.

Orson flipped out when Jake poked him and grabbed it in his hand and then bit it.

“AHHHH!  YOU BIT ME YOU SON OF A MOTHER!!!”  Jake screamed.

Orson hissed at Jake and ran around behind the tree, swallowing even more caffeine pills.

Jake pulled out his gun and started blasting away at the tree.  Persimmon juice started splattering everywhere as the tree was riddled with gunshots.

Orson reached into one of his pockets and began to throw caffeine pills at Jake while swallowing another handful.

“What the hell is this stuff!?” Jake smacked as many of the random raining pills away as he could.  Orson quickly jumped into the tree, came down onto Jake, and began scratching him after they both crash-landed on the floor.  They were showered with persimmon juice and caffeine pills as and rolling around on the ground.

“I’ll show you why they call me ‘Kidney Stone,’ you freak!” Jake grunted during the exchange.

Jake grabbed a stone off the ground and started smashing it into Orson’s kidneys.

“WAAAHHHHH!!!” Orson winced in pain as packages of caffeine pills exploded out of his pockets after being hit in the kidneys a couple of times.

“HOW MANY PILLS DO YOU HAVE???  THIS IS RIDICULOUS!!!” Jake got up and backed away from Orson.

Orson crawled on the ground towards one of the loose bottles of caffeine pills.  He was eating pills along the way as fast as he could.

Jake took out the detonator and started to back up again towards the persimmon tree.  “Ok, kiddo.  I didn’t want to kill anybody, but I’m going to put you out of your misery.  Your caffeine addiction is absolutely ridiculous.”

“I can quit if I want to.”  Orson slowly said as his real plan was coming to fruition.

“Yeah, that’s what they all say, but we all know that…” Jake began, but was interrupted by being lit on fire.

While Orson was behind the persimmon tree, he placed a fuse on the ground which lit up the persimmon tree — and Jake “Kidney Stone” Marauder.

A good five minutes of burning corpse later, Orson was still picking up caffeine pills off the floor, swallowing one for every three he picked up.

The Twin Brothers McGee, Lefty “Left” McGee and Righty “Other Left” McGee came out of the car to see what was holding up Jake.  To their astonishment, they saw Jake; dead and burned to a crisp with the detonator still in his hand, and Orson on the ground picking up large white pills that were littered all over the ground.

Lefty and Righty looked at each other and stared at Jake and Orson in equal amounts.  Orson paid no attention to the mobsters and kept picking up his pills in frantic fashion.

Lefty pointed to Orson.  “Did this guy burn Jake?”

Righty pointed to Jake.  “Well he wouldn’t burn himself!  …would he?”

Lefty went over and grabbed Orson by the collar.  “Hey man, who are you, what are you—“

Before Lefty could finish his stereotypically inquisitive line of questioning given the situation, Orson freaked out and began throwing caffeine pills into his mouth and then threw some at Lefty.

“HEY MAN!  CALM DOWN, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!”

A swift kick to the balls from Orson was all that was needed to subdue Lefty and have him release his collar.  Lefty yelled, “MY LEFTY!” and fell to the ground and passing out.

Righty, equipped his trademarked Left-Handed brass knuckle (his brother, Lefty, had a Right-Handed brass knuckle and was right-handed, too, as opposed to Righty who was left-handed) and swung at Orson the Arson.

Orson’s face got smashed and he fell to the ground into a pile of caffeine pills.  Orson’s mouth became a vacuum and he sucked them all up.

Righty was getting ready to beat Orson a little bit more, and maybe marinate him for cooking, when Orson got a caffeine spike.  When Orson gets a caffeine spike, he begins to get crazy.  If you thought he was crazy before, you should see what happens when a crazy person goes crazy in relative terms.

Orson took a match out of his coat and took a swig from a flask full of gas.  He turned around, lit the match, and sprayed the gas onto the match, lighting up Righty.  Righty ran around and then fell to the ground after inhaling flames.  He was soon burned on the floor.  Orson removed another container of gas from his pocket and dumped it on Lefty, who was barely conscious on the floor.

Orson’s maniacally caffeinated smile filled his face as he lit another match.

Out of nowhere, from the distance, the mobster sharpshooter Langdon “The Big Sleeper” Cranson shot the match out of Orson’s hand.  It flew into the air and as Orson turned around, the match landed only a couple inches away from Lefty.

Orson was caught off guard by the gunman.  “The Big Sleeper” got his name not from being able to shoot very well but the fact that he is a fat guy and sleeps a lot.  He was a mobster, after all, not in the military or even a local police force.  He was classified as a sharpshooter because he could actually hit something when he’s shooting, unlike everyone else in the Three Leaf Clover Gang that likes to just spray bullets everywhere.

The Big Sleeper lumbered forward as he tried to make his way up the incline towards Orson and the rest of the burning bodies.  Orson spat out the caffeine pills in his mouth.  As they flooded out of his mouth in an endless stream, Orson began a high-pitched yell as he reached a psychotic high from the caffeine.  The Big Sleeper, tired from having to shuffle at a fast pace for about ten steps, stopped dead in his tracks as he saw the flood of pills coming out of Orson’s mouth.

“Oh, no.  I ain’t paid to deal with junkies no more.  We are in the coffee business, now, not doing this no more.  No more.” The Big Sleeper made a U-Turn and started shuffling away from Orson, occasionally looking back and trying to take a shot at him with his handgun with a scope on it.  However, he completely missed every time because the angle of his large body didn’t allow for him to shoot directly behind him.  Instead of shooting in the direction where Orson was, he shot to the sides, where innocent Persimmon trees became victim to bullets.

Orson jumped into the air, his hands and feet somehow lit on fire and he grabbed a hold to the back of The Big Sleeper.  The Big Sleeper yelled in pain as he fell to the ground and rolled around on the floor.  Orson didn’t hold on for long since the rotund man rolled faster and faster down the five foot incline.  Orson remained on the floor, crawling in a slithering manner towards The Big Sleeper who was laying in the middle of the road with his huge belly up.

“I have a Fascination for Fire…” Orson said as he slithered toward The Big Sleeper.

The Big Sleeper, unable to move, could only watch as the menacing arson made his slow crawl toward him.  His gun lay just out of his reach.

“AND I MUST BURNNNNN YOUUU!!!” Orson screeched as he scrounged on the ground toward The Big Sleeper.

“NOOOOOO”

Gun shots and the sound of flames erupted as the two coffee houses exploded.  The Big Sleeper’s voice echoed into the night, but was soon masked by the explosion and fires.

“YESSSSSS!!!!!” Orson rose up from the ground as the energy from the fires invigorated him.

“It has been 600 years, but I have finally burned enough coffee-related structures to return to my true form!!”  Orson’s skin began to turn to scales and large claws began to form on his hands.  In a blast of stanky air and caffeine pills, Coffee Breath the Dragon has been renewed!

At that instant, 40 more members of the Three Leaf Clover Gang trooped down the street in the middle of the burning commercial complex.  They had heard of the atrocities that happened to their special forces and came to deal with the “issue.”

Johnny “Funny Man” Toofonny unsheathed his sledgehammer from its holster and pointed it to the roaring dragon.

“This dragon killed Jake, Righty, Lefty, and Langdon!  Let’s get him!”

At the same time, all forty of the henchmen began shooting with their submachine guns at the large dragon.  Every bullet bounced off the dragon’s shiny scales as he came close to the group of henchman.  With a swipe, five henchmen flew into the air towards Canoe Coffee.   The large canoe on top of the building had been filled with melted butter, and the flying henchmen knocked it loose, spilling a flood of melted butter into the street where the other henchmen were.

Another swipe from Coffee Breath and this time henchman hit the kayak on top of Kayak Coffee.  The kayak had been filled with green tea, and came pouring down into the street along with the melted butter.

Unknown to anyone in the world before this day, the mixture of melted butter and green tea created a concoction that had more energy in it than rocket fuel, and the gun powder residue from the firing machine guns hit the fumes created by the Melted Butter Green Tea Rocket Fuel, or MBGTRF for short.  Everyone was lit on fire in a magical-looking green fire with yellow streaks.

 

All that was left of the Three Leaf Clover Gang in the area was Johnny Toofonny.  He watched in horror as all of his friends burned in the magical green fire.  Coffee Breath walked up behind him and grabbed Johnny by the head.  He crushed him with his claws, throwing away the remains into the pile of burning corpses that were once his friends.

Coffee Breath began to flap his wings, and as he gained height, the MBGTRF energy began to swirl around him.  It began to swirl fast enough that it turned Coffee Breath into the fastest dragon in the world and he disappeared in a streak of melted butter and green tea.

After the dust had settled, Deleggy the Legs emerged from the rubble.

 

“FREEDOOOOMMMM!!!”

 

The next day, both of the owners of Kayak Coffee and Canoe Coffee were sued for conspiracy of false imprisonment.  It turned out Kayak Coffee and Canoe Coffee were conspiring to create insurance fraud for sabotaging each other’s companys and forcing people to harvest coffee beans in their underground jungle lair.  Even though their buildings were blown up by gangsters and a dragon, their underground jungle lair became the only focus.

 

Moral of the story:  Don’t trust news sources, they leave out the whole story.

 

Squacklecast Episode 24 – “Starvenger Warman v R2-D2”

This entry is part 24 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Hey all!  Welcome to Squackle.com: The Record of Human History.

Today on the Squacklecast we talk about:

Stripper stories and strip clubs.

Some random “funny-concept” games like Goat Simulator and I Am Bread.

We talk about the following trailers:

Ant-Man:

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice:

Avengers:

Star Wars:

We talk about a long list of dealbreakers someone posted on their dating profile.

Some stuff about spiders and bugs, too.

See ya guys next time!

 

Odin Shops Supplies Commercial

(Karen runs around the screen with her arms in the air.  She is clearly freaking out.)

Karen: O-M-G! O-M-G! Like, what am I totally like gonna like do?

Johnathon Huxworthy: Hey Karen!  Why are you flailing your arms around like a valley girl on a power drink?

Karen: Like, oh my gawwwwww–

(Scene cuts from Karen’s face to Johnathon Huxworthy’s and back again)

Karen: awwwwwwd!  I’m an art student, right?

Johnathon Huxworthy: Um, sure?

Karen: And like I totally forget I had a project due in like 10 minutes.

Johnathon Huxworthy: Well, that’s not problem, Karen!  Odin Shpos has lots of supplies so you can practically make it all right now!  Without leaving campus!

Karen: Great!  I’m going to need 5000 staples, 100 paper clips, a bag of rubber bands, and a glue stick.

Johnathon Huxworthy: Uhhh.. what are you making?

Karen: IT’S A SECRET I CAN’T TELL YOU!  REALLY, JOHNATHON!  YOU KNOW THESE THINGS ARE CONFIDENTIAL!  LIKE MY LOVE FOR HUNKY ANNOUNCER-TYPE MEN WITH DEEP VOICES.

Johnathon Huxworthy: That’s… nice.  I’m leaving now!

(end)

 

Odin Shops Hat Commercial

(Julia is hiding under a rock)

Johnathon Huxworthy: Hey Julia, why are you hiding under that rock?

Julia: Shhh!  The sun might hear me!

Johnathon Huxworthy: Which sun?

Julia: The big bright one that shoots those rays of light at my face!  That guy is so mean!

Johnathon Huxworthy: You know, Julia, if you wore a hat from Odin Shops you wouldn’t have to be afraid of the sun and get out from under that rock.

Julia: Wow… I never thought of that.

Johnathon Huxworthy: Obviously…

Julia: You know what else is kinda hot?

Johnathon Huxworthy: I haven’t the slightest —

Julia: You.

Johnathon Huxworthy: Oh… Kay…

Julia: I think there’s space underneath this rock for both of us.

Johnathon Huxworthy: Yeah, you see, I’m not into girls who hide under rocks.  See ya.

Julia: I feel so alone.

Sun: Hey Julia, I can keep you company.

(end)

 

 

Odin Shops Web Site Commercial

(Don is on a computer)

Johnathon Huxworthy:  Hey don, whatcha doin on that there computer?

Don: Playing minesweeper.

Johnathon Huxworthy: You know what you could be doing?

Don: No, what?

Johnathon Huxworthy: Going to Odinshops.com and buying lots of CSU Asgard gear!

Don: Why would I want to do that?

Johnathon Huxworthy: Because its easy and convenient and it has a great selection!

Don: Do you get paid for this?

Johnathon Huxworthy: Not yet.

(Johnathon Huxworthy looks at camera)

Johnathon Huxworthy: Pay me!!!!

 

Squacklecast Episode 23 – “Episode 23.14159265359”

This entry is part 23 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Happy Pi/Pee Day, everyone.

There is this video that Billy was talking about, I don’t know why I even watched it as it was kind of terrible.

I go on a rant about month-long commemorative holidays, similar to an opinion article I wrote in the past.

Month long Zombie Awareness Month is this coming May 2015!  Also, Month-Long-Holiday Awareness Year starts this year and every year before and after.

We start talking about Star Trek and Star Wars all of a sudden, not sure why, which leads into Interstellar.  This is the video Billy talks about where the author of the book The Prestige says Chris Nolan only has a couple of good movies:

Then we go into the different movies Nolan has made and how he is as a general filmmaker nowadays.

Nolan’s Memento is similar in structure to Irreversible, according to Billy.

We finish out the Nolan discussion and then talk about Gotham a little bit.  Gotham pretty much jumped the shark the first episode.

fishmooneyspooning

Then we go into where Gotham is actually supposed to be located.  We talk about this map on comicvine, which may or may not be canon:

We also talk about Agent Carter, as well.  And then we go into the Superman movies and how Superman 2 was cut in two different ways.

For some reason I saw Da Hip Hop Witch before any of the Superman movies (yet to see) or probably even the Rocky movies.  We talk about Da Hip Hop Witch a little bit, too.

We talk about how crap movies like Da Hip Hop Witch is able to get on Netflix and inspect the process of actually getting on Netflix insofar as a Google Search can tell us.

Squackle: The Movie? I guess it would just be my YouTube channel

Pi ya’ll! See you in National Poetry Month!

 

Hand of Fate (PC) Review

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.

 

Squacklecast Episode 22 – “U Is My Luv”

This entry is part 22 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

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.

 

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

This entry is part 21 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

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

 

Squacklecast Episode 20 – “The Empire Skypes Back”

This entry is part 20 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

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!

 

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

This entry is part 19 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

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.

 

Squacklecast Episode 18 – “Leaked Avengers Comic Con Video”

This entry is part 18 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

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!!!!