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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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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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Swordsman (PC) Review

July 31st, 2014 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Perfect World || Overall: 8.0

World of Warcraft never wowed me. I didn’t ground myself in Tera. I didn’t enlist myself for Guild Wars. Neither did I ever play EverQuest. Much like the old Zelda CD-i games, what your humble reviewer is trying to say is that he avoided Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) games like the plague. Perhaps it was due to a lack of interest in taking the RPG experience online, or maybe it was the fear that the time sink would melt the proverbial face off of my free time à la Raider of the Lost Arc. At least, that was until I gave Perfect World’s MMO Swordsman a try.

giphy
Always make the Indian Jones reference.
Always. 

Disclaimer: This review is based on my experiences playing the Infinity swordsman class up to level 37, during the open Beta. There may be some changes when the game goes live on July the 29th and after as the game is updated.

 

Swordsman Online is Perfect World’s latest foray in the Free-to-Play (F2P) Action MMO market. Inspired by the popular writing of wuxia (martial hero) novelist Louis Cha, Swordsman trades in the typical fantasy-styled combat and races found in most MMOs for martial arts action and oriental locales. The game touts wonderful graphics, an abundance of visceral martial arts inspired combat, exclusive guild-only quests, a variety of classes based on schools of martial arts, a rich story, and an overall fun experience for any MMO junkie.

 

Though, does the Action MMO hold true to those boast? Well, without further ado, here is my review.

Lets get this started
LET’S GET THIS STARTED!!!
YEAH!!!

Right off the bat, Swordsman introduces you to a rather aesthetically intricate and detailed character creation process. From height to build to facial scars, the standard character options already provide an ample playground to create a character to your liking. Furthermore, the advance options offer you sliders to adjust the size, shape and location of those features allowing anything from an eye-catchingly attractive character model to a grossly hideous one.

Character Creation 2Character Creation 3
Character Creation 4Character Creation 5
It ranges somewhere between Cloud Strife to Quasimodo.

Along with the varied character models, the graphics in the game are much better than I expected from a F2P offering. The fields are decorated in a lush mixture of greens, grays, blues and browns that capture the various dirt roads, mountains and areas of water you’ll come across. Inside the cities, the graphics do well to bring the various decorations of the city to life, and also include some neat tile designs that can be seen along the main roads. The shadows in the game also deserve a special note with every item in the city casting its own distinct shadow and, at times, overlapping with others to create an almost realistic effect. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said for the greenery outside of the cities’ wall. The only other graphically lacking part is that a few of the enemies and other NPCs don’t seem on par with the rest, but it still turns out to be a very minor flaw when compared to the depth of the other visuals in this Action MMORPG.

 

Being an “Action” MMORPG, the combat in this game appears to take on a far more involved attitude than with other MMOs. Instead of targeting an enemy to constantly unleash a swarm of basic attacks, every swing of the character’s chosen weapon takes either a button press or mouse click to execute and actual aim to hit the enemy’s hitbox. The typical flow of combat takes on a mixture of those attacks along with special moves and a dodge mechanic to round off a standard fight. There is also a combo mechanic that grants more damage depending on the number of continuous hits you have scored… as long as another player doesn’t move your target out of the way mid-combo or the clunky controls don’t screw it up.

Not Giving a Shit 2
Currently Pictured: My character not giving a shit as he spins around like a
doofus for a high combo.

Regrettably, while the game offers three control options, the controls aren’t the most intuitive with the combat. No matter which of the three control styles your choose, you will find yourself having to get used to the clunky controls rather than naturally having it blend with your own personal style of playing, which can delay you from enjoying it at the onset. The controls themselves have an effect on early combat that causes it to appear stiff until you acquire a more diverse move set later in the game. Though, with that said, each successful hit does carry a distinct weight to it as it makes contact with the enemy. Watching a finishing blow send the lifeless body of an enemy flying did solicit a grin from time to time.

 

The questing itself is rather generic, however. Most taking the form of fetch quests, defeating a certain number of the same enemies, talking to NPCs or the occasional boss fight. Considering that the game has a rather robust acrobatics system that offers triple jumps, air dashing, and gliding, I was hoping there would be more quests involving these abilities that are ripe for platforming elements. Unfortunately, only one quest asked me to use such skills to climb to the top of a building to meet with a man’s wife. Also, word to the wise, there are guild specific quest that serve to spice up the gameplay a little bit, so I’d recommend joining a guild at some point.

Secret
“Golly, Mrs. Lin! I’m okay with that, but I sure hope you told Mr. Lin
about it.”

In addition, early on, the quests give a considerable amount of experience points for whatever you have chosen to do, from important to inane. Constantly I would find myself talking twice to the same character only to have him vomit out about ten percent of the experience points I needed to gain a level. I would prefer to see all that experience be bundled up at the end of the quest line in a neat box, rather than be given out in parts like that for every unimportant task I do… but that’s just, like, my opinion… man…

well-thats-just-like-your-opinion-man-gif-the-dude-lebowski
Abide.

Out of the figurative box and onto other parts of the game, Swordsman offers a whopping ten classes under the guise of martial arts schools your character can study. While each of the schools or “classes” are different, they all follow the standard roles of tank, DPS (Damage Per Second), healing, support and control seen in most MMORPGs. Delving deeper, each of the schools offer three distinct styles that can be changed on the fly even during mid-combat that are usually either a variation on the school’s role in combat, or a dip into another of the usual combat roles.

 

Being comfortable with my masculinity, I chose to study under the Infinity Style that is usually practiced by nuns and offered quite the unique counter mechanic to their tank-ish style of combat. Most of the skills are charged attacks that release high damage the longer the charge is held.  However, if hit during the charge the class will unleash a completely different move that usually substitutes damage for a negative status effect or a “debuff” on the opponent. I found that to be a rather interesting mechanic, and would love to see what other mechanics the other schools introduced in the story could pull off.

SWORDSman
The Infinity School also attempts to make a two sword style viable, which is about
as unrealistically awesome as I wish to be. 

Taken by itself, the story is a little bland and hardly noteworthy. When seen through the eyes of a martial arts film aficionado (i.e. me), it’s quite the enjoyable love letter to genre and the books the game is based upon. All of the tropes are there: the main character’s village being destroyed, ancient relics, feuding martial arts schools, revenge, secret scrolls and the glorious Fu Manchu facial hair. To add to that, Perfect World made the decision not to dub the dialogue and to keep in its original Mandarin Chinese. This proved to be fairly wise decision as the authentic Chinese voices give the story an authentic vibe, in turn. The only way it could be more authentic is if it replaced the voices with bad English voice acting that doesn’t exactly match the lips flaps of the character. All in all, the story is a mixed bag; those that enjoy the genre will enjoy the homage to the books and films the story is based on, and those that do not will hardly care for it.

Fu Manchu
Though early cinema has given the Fu Manchu facial hair a bad rap,
few things are as majestic when properly maintained.

Beyond the story, the game offers a variety of instances, dungeons and events for a group of people to run. Starting at around level 15, the player is already offered their first instance to play at one of three difficulty levels. While most instances can be tackled by themselves at the normal level, swordsman and hero levels ramp up the difficulty to be better tackled by a team of players. Along with those, the game also offers a variety of dungeons at higher levels that offer their own form of exp rewards and items gains. Adding to that, there are many daily events and activities that are sure to better your character in one way or the other.

Generic
The instances are as important to do as their names are generic.

The Player versus Player (PvP) options come in a few flavors. While typical one on one and group combat can be enjoyed in the game’s arena, which includes customizable settings and a reward system for the victor, the game also offers guild based PvP that allows guild to take over land in-game. However, the most intriguing option lies in how Swordsman handles PvP in the open world. PvP players outside of the arena and the guild wars come in three types. First are the Harmony players that aren’t allowed to attack others. Then there are the Outlaws that can attack any player above a certain level for a monetary reward but at the cost of their name turning red and branding them as a player killer. Lastly, there are the Avengers that are only allowed to gank (kill) characters whose name has turned red, netting the player an item from the character’s inventory once defeated. In a way, this game of mouse and cat (and dog) is a fascinating way for the player characters to police themselves.

 

As for the audio, I found it rather lackluster to say the least. Not that it ever detracted from my experience of the game, but nothing struck me as noteworthy in the music or sound effects department in the open beta.

 

Being in open beta, Swordsman is riddled with enough bugs to make a roach motel jealous. A few I encountered included: graphical glitches, closed doors that I could pass through, opened doors that looked closed on screen, the sound randomly cutting out during cutscenes, my character freezing in place for several minutes and an invisible enemy hunting me down until I could escape to a safe zone. As a special mention, the most amusing glitch in the game allowed me to make the enemies windmill uncontrollably after being killed by certain moves. While none of these glitches are game breaking, they sure do bring you out of the game’s immersion.

Dance
I like to think that sometimes I don’t kill my enemies, but instead their defeat
inspires them to take up their true passion in dance.

Lastly, for the duration of the game, I was offered the Hero’s Pack by Perfect World. Included in the package comes a combination of a mount, a unique companion, equipment, an exclusive fashion and consumables all meant to make your Swordsman’s experience all the more enjoyable for $59.99. While most of the items only serve to streamline the experience and literally make things faster for you, like the Blazing Stallion that goes about 3 miles per hour faster than a typical horse, there is some worth in the rather powerful Ring of Valor, which is an upgradable piece of gear that can boost its stats as you level. Also, the package offers you a unique fashion  which doesn’t serve anything outside of an aesthetic sense that this is the closest you’ll be to looking like Mortal Kombat’s thunder god in Swordsman, which admittingly, is still pretty cool. Overall, while it can be convenient for those starting out or seeking to raise an alternate character, I found the Hero’s Pack unnecessary for a patient player.

Raiden CosplayThunder God

Maybe if you squint your eyes and turn your head to the left…

Though the game definitely has it share of glitches and faults, I believe the game is worth a try for anyone looking for a new MMO to enjoy. From the unique setting, variety of classes, abundant PvP and eye-catching graphics, the game more than makes up for getting use to its clunky controls and other lesser traits. Plus, it made my first true MMO experience not all that bad…

-~-

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“Katy Perry – Dark Horse” Breakdown

April 24th, 2014 Posted in Music, Screwed Up Chronicles No Comments »

This entry is part 13 of 13 in the series Dave's Breakdown

To continue on the earlier thought that practically every song Katy Perry sings is about Katy Perry taking it from a very large penis in some shape or form, her recent single “Dark Horse” is also about a big penis slapping the shit out of her ovaries.   In this edition of Dave’s Breakdown, we’ll go over the lyrics of this song with a fine toothed-comb.

[Juicy J:]
“Yeah / Ya’ll know what it is / Katy Perry / Juicy J, aha. / Let’s rage”

Okay this part is your normal introduction of the “guest” singer in a song.  So we have it established that this guy “Juicy J” is the object of Katy Perry’s lower abdominal discomfort.  As his name implies, he probably has a very large, juicy penis.  Or at least, that’s what we’re supposed to believe.

[Katy Perry:]
“I knew you were / You were gonna come to me”

Well, you can’t get more blunt than this.  This guy is “cumming” to her!

“And here you are / But you better choose carefully”

Choosing what, you might ask?  I’m guessing anal or vagina.  You have to choose carefully because if you go anal you can’t go vagina unless you trade out the condom because then there will be shit on the condom and putting shit into a vagina isn’t nice for anyone.

“‘Cause I, I’m capable of anything / Of anything and everything”

She’s open to every position you can think of, and she is very flexible.

“Make me your Aphrodite / Make me your one and only / But don’t make me your enemy, your enemy, your enemy”

Something about not being open to threesomes.

“So you wanna play with magic / Boy, you should know what you’re falling for”

Play with “magic” being semen swirling inside of her vagina.  Falling, because when she squirts, she squirts with such force she’ll make you fall backwards.

“Baby do you dare to do this?”

It is pretty dangerous because her vagina/ass is very tight.

“Cause I’m coming at you like a dark horse”

Now, here it is.  She is riding the “you” in the song like a horse, but a dark one.  Because you didn’t expect her to be so easily fuckable.

“Are you ready for, ready for / A perfect storm, perfect storm”

She’s so perfect in bed, the sheets will wrap up like a tornado or something, and you can’t get out until you rip a tendon.

“Cause once you’re mine, once you’re mine / There’s no going back”

Once you decide to go steady with her, anal is off the table.

“Mark my words / This love will make you levitate”

Your semen is going to “levitate” cause you’re going to be laying down while she’s riding you like a (dark) horse.

“Like a bird / Like a bird without a cage / But down to earth / If you choose to walk away, don’t walk away”

You can’t leave until you make her squawk like a bird.

“It’s in the palm of your hand now baby / It’s a yes or no, no maybe / So just be sure before you give it all to me / All to me, give it all to me”

Katy Perry’s ovaries are in your hands and you have to put them back inside her vagina, fertilized.

[Juicy J – Rap Verse:]
“Uh / She’s a beast / I call her Karma (come back) / She eats your heart out / Like Jeffrey Dahmer (woo) / Be careful / Try not to lead her on / Shorty’s heart is on steroids / Cause her love is so strong / You may fall in love / When you meet her / If you get the chance you better keep her / She’s sweet as pie but if you break her heart / She’ll turn cold as a freezer / That fairy tale ending with a knight in shining armor / She can be my Sleeping Beauty / I’m gon’ put her in a coma / Woo!”

Translation:  Wear a condom or you’re fucked in more ways than one.  Knight in shining “armor” indeed…

“Damn I think I love her / Shorty so bad, I’m sprung and I don’t care”

Not even trying to hide that this part is about a penis.

“She ride me like a roller coaster / Turned the bedroom into a fair (a fair!)”

Usually roller coasters come with lots of safety precautions, but once you’re set up, its going to be up and down, up and down, up and down, and possibly barfing at the end because of all the nausea/gagging.  There will also be lots of gross food and cotton candy pubic hair.

“Her love is like a drug / I was tryna hit it and quit it / But lil’ mama so dope / I messed around and got addicted”

Funny how they use a word that has the word “dick” in it at the end of this verse.

In conclusion, Katy Perry has big boobs, but now her songs are more about being exclusive to one person and getting only one person to fuck her brains out in a consistent relationship rather than as a fleeting one night stand like in her song “Firework.”

-~-

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Long Live the Queen (PC) Review

March 4th, 2014 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Hanako Games || Overall: 8.0

Welcome Lords and Ladies, gentlemen and women of esteem to the tale of Princess Elodie. A young girl caught betwixt her royal appointment as upcoming queen and the many dangers that the title holds. Watch her take classes on the many facets of a proper ruler and matriarch. Watch her weave her way through the tribulations of both political intrigue and royal scandal. Watch her conquer both the battlefield and the ballroom with her might and refinement. And watch her die… and die… and die again…

Cheerful

Don’t get too attached, her many deaths will be the result
of your bad decisions.

 Okay, I had my fun.

 

Long Live the Queen is a visual novel of political intrigue, war and death all dressed up in a pretty, pretty pink ribbon for your playing pleasure. The game casts you in the role of young princess Elodie, fresh from the sudden and unexplained death of her mother; this understandably depressed young lady is now tasked with running the country until her proper coronation on her fifteenth birthday. You, on the other hand, are in charge of keeping her alive by means of a point and click adventure where you will raise up skills to complete tasks through menu commands. You will fail.

 

At its core, Long Live the Queen is a literal numbers game. You have a number of weeks until Elodie’s coronation, attempts on her life occur on certain numbered weeks, and you then avoid them by having leveled the necessary skills to survive to a certain number. Long Live the Queen’s success in this formula is in how fluidly this all comes together. The game does the number crunching for you while clearly explaining all in-game mechanics.

 

If described in one word, the “game play” in Long Live the Queen is “light.” A typical in-game week consist of first sending Elodie out to learn two skills in the form of classes, and ends with having her participate in some sort of event during the weekend. Both skills she has focused on are raised by a base of two points per day and, with no bonuses, results in 10 points for the week. This is further diversified by her mood; every weekend you are asked to have Elodie participate in some sort of activity that affects her mood and, in turn, her mood affects how well she does in her studies. If done correctly, you could gain a bonus that is about three times the usual rate. If done incorrectly, you could succumb to a penalty that results in an effective score of zero points for the whole week.

Skills

The skills range somewhere between “a lot” to a “crap load.”

Now while simple enough in execution, to make the most out of your skills and moods requires a careful point and click balancing act. First off, the skills are quite numerous and the game doesn’t really allow for your princess to train evenly in all fields. More often than not, you will find that making Elodie a jack-of-all-trades will lead to an earlier demise than min-maxing (minimizing the effect of undesired skills and maximizing the effect of desired ones). This can get particularly difficult when you find out that each skill has two associated skills that must be raised over 25 points before the skill you want can be raised over 50 points. Overall, you’ll find that a well-rounded princess usually equals a hated, useless and dead one.

 

Moods, to the same extent, also require their own special balancing act to make the most out of them. Each mood is set at one end of an eleven point scale and at the opposite end of that scale is a mood that is contradictory to it. For example, in this game, you can’t be angry if you are afraid, you can’t be cheerful if you are depressed, and you can’t be lonely if you are pressured. How much each of those makes sense is up to you. So whenever a certain activity gives you points in one mood, it also detracts points from its opposite mood. This will often have you subject your princess to a constant state of manic depression as you go from one end of each mood scale to the other in search of the right mood bonus to complement the skills you desire. Though, even with perfect mastery of both skills and moods, it doesn’t mean your princess will make it out alive.

 PassiveAggressive

 It’s not like I think that the combination of angry and afraid is being
passive-aggressive, but it could make sense, man…
Source

Elodie is going to die… she’s going to die a lot… but that is also part of the fun of Long Live the Queen. Even when you believe you have a perfect set of skills and moods to take your little monarch from princess to queen, the game has no problem throwing a surprise curveball at you and killing Elodie off. The process, while frustrating, often times fills you with a renewed sense of determination as you start fresh and tweak her skills to overcome that particular obstacle and then find another one to have you repeat the whole process. Even when you do eventually manage to make Elodie a queen, you can find yourself eagerly replaying the game to find out what other sets of skills can make her a queen and not a cadaver. Altogether, Elodie’s constant deaths give a sort of morbid charm to the game.

SwordBlood
ArrowBlown_up

Never before has brutal death been more adorable.

Visually, the game takes many cues from the art styles found in most shoujo (girl) comics in Japan, which makes sense since this game is targeted towards girls but with a wider audience in mind (justifying my manhood: done). The girls are cute and the boys are just as pretty. My only problem is that despite the game fitting the visual novel category, it seems far more inclined to just describe the story rather than illustrate it. The game could do well to provide more illustrations during the more important points of the story than just a portrait of a face and some text next to it. Though, when illustrated, the pictures are a treat to see.

 

In the audio department, the piano arrangements that accompany the story give it a fairy tale ambiance, as well as, just being pleasant on the ears to hear. It does well to highlight the sad, cheerful, and action scenes throughout the novel. In contrast, the sound effects are virtually non-existent. Which is a shame, since a well placed clang of steel or cheering crowd could have picked up the slack where the visuals did not.

 

There isn’t really much to say about the interface. To its benefit, everything is easy to get to, clearly explained and hardly confusing. You point. You click. You get on with Elodie’s life (or death).

 

The narrative does a good job at juxtaposing the pretty princess theme with the darker tones of rulership. One minute Elodie could be enjoying a grand ball, and the next she could be at the end of an assassin’s blade. Though, in that regard, it does exactly what the game promises; it takes you through the “typical” year of someone destined to be queen. Where the narrative thrives is in the fact that, despite one scene near the end, it is exactly what you make of it. Often times, you will even find that events from much earlier have great impact on events found later on in the story. Though, whether princess Elodie makes the castle her gilded cage to protect her from the world’s troubles, becomes a war mongering tyrant, or goes on an adventure to vanquish fantastical beast is completely based on the skills she takes and choices you make.

 Military Elodie

…or you could play her like I did. As a warlord skilled in both decoration and public speaking that I imagine
screams, “I AM THE PRETTIEST!” after every victory to the cheers of a loving crowd

 

and so ends our tale of princess Elodie. A tale, while lacking both in effects of visual and of sound, can be an intriguing piece that is delightfully frustrating and wonderfully addicting to come back to. To all the Lord and Ladies in the audience, I bid you “Adieu.”

-~-

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Puzzle and Dragons (Android) Review

January 7th, 2014 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: GungHo Online Entertainment|| Overall: 8.5

Hardware Used: T-Mobile G2 with Android 2.3.4

With its roaring success in the Land of the Rising Sun, (that’s Japan, because the sun doesn’t rise elsewhere) GungHo Online Entertainment now intends to addict America with its special blend of Puzzle, RPG and Free-to-Play/Pay-to-Win elements with the straight-to-the-point title Puzzle and Dragons. Though, does the game deliver a fun experience that can garner the attention of an American audience, or will it simply fade in obscurity like many other Japanese imports?

Nintendo Gameboyvirtualboy

If you need me to tell you which of these imports was a failure and which wasn’t, then videogaming
might not be the right hobby for you.

 

Puzzle and Dragons is the unholy combination of the puzzle elements of Bejeweled, the monster mechanics of the Shin Megami Tensei series and a dash of Pokémon for added flavor. While each game is addictive in its own right, someone in Japan thought combining the three would make an addiction juggernaut of the likes that mobile gamers have never seen before… and for the most part, he was right.

 

Puzzle and Dragons starts you off with the wholly “original” idea of having you pick one of three elemental monsters: a fire monster, a water monster, and a plant monster. You are given a random “rare” monster to further entice you to collect more monsters. Afterwards, you are thrown into a seemingly endless supply of dungeons to capture monsters, level and evolve your collection, as well as level yourself up — all to eventually continue the vicious cycle when you find that you can now take on stronger enemies and dungeons. All of which aptly describes your journey through the game.

Mega-Evolutions-of-Classic-Starters-700x372puzzle-dragons-main

Okay, I don’t care how it happens but one of you
is helping me catch a Mewtwo.

Game design in Puzzle and Dragons is actually pretty solid. The meat and potatoes of the core game will have you encounter wave after wave of monsters in each dungeon until you reach the boss monster. During battles, the monsters will attempt to attack and reduce your hit points to zero. You’ll counter by matching up elemental gems to make your corresponding monsters attack and reduce the enemy’s hit points to zero. The best moves are when you form a chain of matches, which further multiply the damage your monsters dish out.

 

Along the way, you collect more monsters while making enough coins to further advance your monster team. While the premise is simple enough a layer of strategy is added by the various special abilities each of your monsters provide that sometimes cause extra damage, other times restore your HP, and can even convert one type of elemental gem into another. Taking these special abilities into account when forming a team of monsters can mean the difference between beating an enemy monster that your current level shouldn’t be able to handle or having a boss curb-stomp them. Furthermore, special “Leader Skills” further shake things up and add another layer.

 

Puzzle and Dragons also resides in the easy-to–learn-but-hard-to-master category, though the game does a sufficient enough job at explaining the basics, it leaves the more advanced strategies to the players to find them on the internet or discover them in a happy accident. Overall, the gameplay is fun and engaging.

Strategy

This is an example of strategies derived from a
“happy accident.”

 

On the other side of the Free-to-Play coin is the fact that Puzzle and Dragons is a Free-to-Play mobile game and has no shame in reminding you of that. While plenty of activities can be done with the in-game currency, namely leveling up your monsters and evolving them, there are activities that require a special form of currency called a “Magic Stone.” The activities vary in usefulness; you can revive your monsters in a dungeon, regain their stamina so you are allowed to play longer, or get a turn at the hallowed “Rare Egg Machine” for an almost guaranteed chance at a strong monster for the price of five Magic Stones. Then, once their usefulness has been established, the game proceeds to remind you at every turn that they can be purchased in their online store, especially when you have none left.

 

Now, a fair warning to new players: the game will attempt to make it seem like Magic Stones are easy to come by as it bombards you with them early on in your career as a Pokémon Mas… Persona Use… Dragon Tamer(?). Know that this is only temporary and the stones quickly become a much rarer commodity. That’s not to say that you’ll never get them, and that you can’t eventually achieve the same results with a lot of hard work, but the game is more than happy to offer you an easy way out if you wish to throw money their way.

 

The controls in this game sometimes suffer the same foibles that many touch screen based games have, but work enough of the time for that to not be a problem. The game never really asks you to do any more than tap the screen or drag your finger along it, and barring an occasional accident, you are able to do just that with no problem. The other elements of the interface are also easy to use. On the main menu, everything is visible and doesn’t require more than three taps to get somewhere, and in the dungeon the elemental gems and monsters are in clear view. The only problem I have with the touch screen controls is that the gems seem a bit too close, making it hard to see the gems around the one you’re currently in control of. Of course, it could just be my fat finger and small phone that are the real problems.

 

Visually, the game doesn’t really offer much outside the portraits that come with each monster. They are often colorful, creative and somewhere along the lines of adorable, ferocious or a very specific fetish that I’m sure applies to someone. In contrast, the backgrounds are mostly just pallet swaps (recoloring the same textures) of the same hallways. The special effects are just as bland and usually involve a ball of colored light that hits the opponents, followed by an uninspired effect that represents the element used in the attack.

Echidna ArchangelLilith Flame Girl

Ladies…

 

The music unfortunately hits the same note (see what I did there), and is just as bland as most of the visuals. You are constantly subjected to the same slightly upbeat and so-often-forgettable-that-I-had-to-log-into-the-game-to-remember-it music in every dungeon. The monotony is only broken up by another, more intense song that is also played at every boss encounter. The sound effects are just as forgettable and really don’t do anything different that you haven’t seen before.

 

Now, a special note should be added as to why this game is so addictive. Not only does it provide solid gameplay, and a vast collection of monsters to collect, improve, and form a team around, but the game is also constantly in the midst of some sort of special event. The events serve many purposes from providing the user with fresh new dungeons to explore, the chance to collect rare monsters such as angels, demons, and batman (I’m not kidding), and also the ability to collect more of the coins, experience, and “Magic Stones” to make team building all the easier. Furthermore, these events often come and go, so it pays to log in daily to check out what is going on, what you can take advantage of, and exactly how long you can take advantage of it. In conclusion, the events give an incentive for players to log in daily.

BatmanPuzzle

Okay, let’s be honest here… you’d make a much better leader of this team
than me, so I’ll just stand back here and let you call the shots.

 

Despite the hiccups in the audio and visual department, Puzzle and Dragons is a fun and addictive game. The combination of bejeweled-like puzzles, collectable monsters, and a Shin Megami-like advancement system seemed to have meshed well into a game that is indeed playable, and worth a look.

-~-

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Aspects TD (iOS) Review

November 26th, 2013 Posted in Game Reviews, Games No Comments »

Developer/Publisher: Sabaton Games LLP || Overall: 7.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Due to a supposed shortage of tower defense games on iOS (I’m not personally an expert on the statistics of genres of the games on the App Store), Sabaton Games thought it prudent to create the recently released Aspects TD.  So, has Sabaton Games developed the experience one should expect from a tower defense game on the iOS?  I suppose the answer would be yes, but at the same time, no.

Aspects TD is a little bit different from most tower defense games I’ve played.  Most of my genre experience comes from the fantastic PixelJunk Monsters, as well as many StarCraft (the first one) Use Map Settings games, among other games I can’t particularly remember.  The most unique thing about Aspects TD is certainly being able to essentially “combat” against an opponent.  More than just defending your base with towers known as Totems, you are assaulting your enemy’s base with your OWN monsters known as “Phantoms.”  Monster waves are sent to each player at the same time, from what I can tell, and you’ll have to be able to time your summoning of extra Phantoms at the right moment to throw a kink in your opponent’s tower coverage in hopes to get some of your Phantoms across the map and through to the opponent’s base.

This game-play design forces a balance.  Either build more Totems to defend or summon Phantoms to attack your opponent.  You automatically gain a resource called “Mana” every time one of your Totems kills an enemy Phantom.  When you summon your own Phantom,  you begin to gain Mana from something called “Faith.”  You gain more Faith by summoning Phantoms — 10% of their cost goes into this Faith pool.  Every ten seconds or so from the time you summon your first Phantom, you will begin to gain Mana equal to the number of your Faith in addition to what your Towers gain from killing monsters.  This process continues until the end of the match, and your Faith number will grow as long as you summon more Phantoms.

Depending on how well you do at placing your Totems, you may be able to be more economical and send more Phantoms out against your opponent and gain resources over time.  The investment can build up into something worthwhile, but depending on what kind of enemies end up being sent at you, you can definitely use that extra 1000 mana to build more Totems rather than waiting for the long-term interest on your investment.  Unfortunately, the game does not reward you for being truly economical with your Mana — you don’t see the typical percentage gain of resources based on what you have pooled.  This can create the issue of needing to keep your Mana at near 0 or you will run the risk of possibly being behind in either defense or attacking.  If you choose to spend on attacking, your Faith will grow to almost ridiculous levels and you won’t have enough time to use it on building more Totems or attacking.  But at that point, you’ll probably be able to overwhelm your enemy with a ton of Phantoms — so that isn’t a big deal, per se.

On top of the prior circumstances, due to the mishmash of enemies each wave, you can’t really construct a strategy other than hopefully having enough damage to get through each progressive wave.  Phantom waves are not usually themed, such as “flying only” or “this type of enemy only” so it can be hard to plan for all contingencies at all times.  Each wave increases difficulty of killing the monsters, because your Totems do not grow in strength and your enemies get more health.  The tuning in this regard seems very exact and they don’t really give much leeway in exploring the use of different totems in different places.  Totems cost a lot and there’s not a huge diversity, not to mention they can’t be upgraded at all.  It feels like they were going for more of a Plants vs. Zombies feel more than a traditional tower defense game in some aspects, but in the end after trying a lot you can get through most of the fights just by trying to perfect your strategy as much as possible.  Overall, the game tends to just be super fucking hard and you can get the feeling you are relying on luck to get past the challenges rather than actual strategy.

Your profile will have experience gain, but for what purpose, I couldn’t tell you.  I can only assume that your Phantoms/Totems gain power as you “level up” but that means you have to lose several games before you gain enough power to actually beat a mission you might be having trouble with.  There is no indication of actually increasing your power through these levels, since when you level, there is nothing that tells you what you’ve gained.  Even if you notice that some of the numbers in your profile change, whether or not they are large enough to affect anything is left to question.

As you play the game, you’ll notice that numbers fly all over the place signifying how much damage your Totems are doing.  These numbers are useless, and clutter up the screen, not to mention they are absolutely redundant since there are also health bars — which can’t be seen because they are hidden behind all the numbers!  There is wayyyy too much information and it is to the detriment of the visuals of the game.  The satisfying aspect should be seeing the damage you do to your enemies, not the damage numbers covering up the actual visuals.  Health bars are more than enough to gauge if an enemy is going to die, and should be all that is needed.

Controls are a whole other issue with this game.  For one, the squares are way too small.  I don’t know how much of an issue this would be on an iPad, but since they opt for a “tap and drag” interface rather than something that is more natural for a touch screen, it can be quite cumbersome to place your tower somewhere you actually didn’t want it to go or on a square you aren’t able to build on.  A more natural option would have been tapping an existing square on the board and then choosing the Totem you want to make from there.  The same is true with the Phantoms — you are “tapping and flicking” them upwards when really all you should have to be forced to do is tap them.  The User Interface can be cleaned up considerably if they put a little more effort into those systems.

Lag can also be an issue — when you have a ton of Totems and a ton of Phantoms going around on your opponent’s map, numbers are flying everywhere, shit is blowing up, and you are left with a game dropping down to four frames per second.  This goes to the root of the issue where the words “less is more” comes to mind.  It may have been a more pleasant experience to be able to place less Totems on the board in a more strategic fashion, with less enemies, and less stupid numbers flying all over the place.  Not to say that you can’t have a game that is designed like Aspects TD is currently — just that there are some things you can do to prevent a clumsy game-play experience that chugs at a low frame rate when too much is happening.

The character art in the game is pretty cool — but the actual game-play art is below what you may have expected at first glance.  The “Phantoms” pretty much all look like crap, but some of the Totems look very cool.  The totems have this weird sci-fi shamanistic thing going on — think Avatar, I guess.  There’s no real explanation as to why Totems launch missiles and shoot lasers or flames, but at least they look cool doing it.  This leads into the story itself.  The story is actually very interesting in the beginning and I was very hopeful for what the game would have in store.  I had been putting a lot of effort into this game since it was so freaking hard, but it came to be my extreme disappointment that the story completely fell off and most of the missions became something like “Oh, I have to defend my people” and “Oh, there’s bad guys over there, but whatever I’m going to go and kill them.”  The story had started with some sort of conspiracy thing and mystery as to where the evil forces were coming from.  Also, I was hopeful that the technology would be explained somehow to add more layers to the story.  But they never really propel that story forward by the time you’re on the 19th mission, which is the currently last mission available.  Not to mention, the 19th mission also feels like it is rigged against you and unless you grind some levels, I don’t see how its possible to beat the mission at all.

According to the game, there are more missions “coming soon.”  It is kind of weird, because the whole way through, you’re “unlocking” more Phantoms and Totems — even in the last available level!  Like, for what purpose am I still unlocking things on the last level?  Is there a time where I actually get to play the full game with all of the options available?  Apparently not.  At least, in this current version of the game.  This isn’t a “free to play” style game in which you expand your options or buy more missions.  By saying there are missions “coming soon” it is essentially saying that you are buying an incomplete game.  It’s nice to have an update to look forward to, but when you’re playing a game you outright bought and you get to the end of the game and you haven’t actually started to use all of the skills you learned about during the progression, you can feel cheated.  It feels almost like the game is too hard on purpose, just to elongate the amount of time you have to spend on the game to get to the last mission, with the last mission being practically unbeatable.  There is also no information regarding when “soon” is or how many missions are to be expected.

There are three different characters to choose from… but you can only save the progression of two separate characters.  Each of the three characters have their own perks, and special totems.  But as you might expect, the story is the same for all of the characters.  I am unsure why you can’t have one save slot for each character, but it’s not like it really matters that much since the game is essentially the same between them.  Save slots don’t even seem very useful at all in this game, since you can go back and play any mission at any time.  It only seems to serve as restricting you from switching characters on the fly and to keep your “levels” contained to only one of the characters.

Oddities arise with the game as well — you will see the occasional bad spelling error or a grammatically incorrect phrase.  I think there also might be a tower that has had its description switched with another tower, but I can’t be too sure there.  Considering there isn’t a whole lot to actually read in the game, it is fairly rare throughout the experience where you’ll encounter these bizarre errors.  Sound is another issue with the game, which is easily solved (hint hint).  The music is repetitive and the sound effects are just annoying.  While I can agree that the music is nice to listen to maybe one or two times, there doesn’t appear to be any variety at all — they keep playing the same song over and over.  Sound effects can be really annoying if they are not used correctly, but like many other games you may play on your iOS device, it’s better to just turn off the sound.  The game has been stable, and except for the massive frame drops when there is a ton happening, there is only one consistent crashing problem.  When you lose, if press “Next” the game will just quit completely and you will have to boot up the game again to replay the level.  To prevent having this happen, you have to tap “Skip” and then replay the mission.  I have no idea what “Next” is supposed to do if it was actually meant to work.  It’s almost like the game is saying “You suck, you shouldn’t play this game anymore, so let me quit the game for you.  See ya later asshole!”

Currently the game is $1.99 for a release sale, but will go up to $2.99 once the promotional period is over.  Two dollars is definitely not a lot of money, but in the case of this game it might be worth it if you’re really into seeing a different tower defense game, or if you absolutely need something like this on your iOS devices.  Multiplayer is a feature in the game, but can only be played locally, so if you want to take advantage of that feature, you’ll have to convince another friend to pay their two (or three) dollars to get into the game, as well.  I suppose that the multiplayer aspect might actually be “the thing you were meant to do” with this game, but considering Tower Defense is a niche genre already, you’re not going to find someone to play this with unless you make them buy it.

-~-

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Grand Theft Auto V (PS3) Review

November 14th, 2013 Posted in Game Reviews, Games 1 Comment »

Developer: Rockstar North | Publisher: Rockstar Games || Overall: 9.5/10

For me, a Grand Theft Auto game is like one of those mini-milestones in my life; I get to experience something fantastic, funny, and overall extremely entertaining.  I’ve bought each of the mainline GTA games during the first week of release, and have thoroughly enjoyed each of them.  I still have yet to complete any of the games on PlayStation 2, and I still need to buy Vice City Stories, but I can pretty much say that GTA is a big part of what makes gaming so enjoyable to me.

So, does Grand Theft Auto V continue to be the torchbearer that has been such a motivator for me to stick with gaming as a whole?  The answer is yes, but the answer is also no, in some regards.  Grand Theft Auto is a lot of things to a lot of people — a social scapegoat, a cool game to fuck around endlessly in, and most of all an offensive and satirical look at America and what it means to be an American.

Grand Theft Auto V breaks the mold of its predecessors by allowing you to play as three different characters.  Each character has their own individual stories and some missions that overlap with each other.  The missions culminate at certain points of the story where you will do “Heists.”  Heists can essentially be looked at as the major challenge or “boss” of that point of the game. Heists themselves are very dynamic story missions that allow you to switch characters based on what sort of preference you have.  At times you’ll also be forced to change characters to progress the mission.  There are several occasions where a character has to drive 5 miles to a certain location, but during “their drive” you can switch to another character who is currently in the middle of another objective that is occurring.  After completing the Heist, all three characters have their own missions opened up again.

Each of the three characters draw parallels to previous characters in the series, with the character Trevor, who is a drug dealing crime entrepreneur being the most unique as far as the series-as-a-whole goes.  All three characters, and their motion capture/voice work actors, do an amazing job in conveying the story and making it enjoyable.  First and foremost, the story of Grand Theft Auto V is a character story.  There is very little strength in an overall arcing story, as it never really comes to a head, but the real joy of the story is the interactions between the characters and the way they live their lives and the things that go on around them.  The main storyline revolves around the government and government corruption, but is never fully realized in its potential.  My feeling is that there will be expansions, a la GTA IV’s expansions, where each character may be the sole focus to fully flesh out the remaining questions that each individual’s story sort of left open ended even as the credits rolled and after.

As a result, the story sort of just drops off at the end and you’re left with questions for each of the individual character’s stories without any real indication that they will be answered or even if the inevitable expansions are even going to focus on the main protagonists of the GTA V.  A lot of the plot points of in the characters’ personal stories make you question why they bothered having them when there was no real pay off.  A wait-and-see approach for the expansion plans is sort of unnerving, but if it pans out the way I hope it does then it may not be that bad.

The game play has been universally improved from GTA IV.  Combat is a lot more fun and refined.  The addition of the weapon wheel allows for switching guns in a more efficient manner.  Many of the same features you expect in a GTA game are present, and have been refined as well.  Being able to customize cars permanently is a welcome addition for the single player mode.  Speaking on cars, your characters all have their own “personal vehicles” that you will undoubtedly drive more often than not.  This is a vast change from previous games where you would always just steal a car to get around the city.  Now that you have your “own” personal vehicle you can always rely on using that car.  I actually preferred to use the personal cars to give the feeling of consistency for the story.  The cars are also unique, so you can tell when another character is driving it or is parked somewhere waiting for you to start a mission.

During a lot of the missions there are opportunities to catch references to action movies in a way that is an homage to Hollywood and Los Angeles.  There are plenty of hilarious scenes and subtleties that make this Grand Theft Auto leagues ahead of any before it, while still harkening back to them.  Most notably is GTA: San Andreas, as you encounter gangs that existed in that game as well as visiting CJ’s home neighborhood — you will instantly recognize it and there is even a mission where you will have a shootout through the whole neighborhood.  You will also be able to walk into a lot of different buildings during your missions — one such being the LifeInvader offices where there are a lot of Facebook-related jokes and scenes to be had.

Missions are split out into separate categories — “Missions” and “Strangers and Freaks.”   During the series there has always been those “off-storyline” missions that came around that didn’t have much to do with anything.  In Grand Theft Auto IV, they added “strangers” that you could meet on the street and talk to them for a little while or even do a mission for them.  The Strangers and Freaks missions in Grand Theft Auto V allowed Rockstar to combine both of those aspects and let themselves go really crazy with designing missions.  Shooting aliens after smoking weed, kidnapping a movie star for two old British tourists, and skydiving out of a helicopter into the city are only some of the things that you can do in tandem with the main storyline.  Another welcomed feature is the ability to replay all of the missions you find and refine your score on them so you can earn trophies.

With Grand Theft Auto V, you can tell that even though the game is goofy at times, they have made it a point to make the game act much more “realistic.”  The way people walk and run, physics that are toned down, and the serious storyline are all honed in on this goal of becoming a “realistic” game.  A major casualty of this appears to be the loss of many of the more “traditional game” elements that we have seen in the Grand Theft Auto series, namely Vigilante, Ambulance, and Firetruck side missions.  Vigilante has been seemingly replaced with “random events” that you will stumble upon as you are driving through the city.  During these random events, people will get their property stolen or police will be in a shootout with the criminals and you can either step in or let them go.  While they are nice as an addition, I think I would have gotten at least a couple of more hours of enjoyment from being able to hunt down a list of bounties or have the game generate a group of criminals for me to take down, like in GTA IV.  It is unfortunate because GTA V’s combat system is A LOT OF FUN, and I wish I could just have more combat outside of missions.  Being able to access the internet on your phone is also very convenient, but it seems like there are a lot less web sites to find this time around.  Watching TV is also not as convenient because there is no “full screen” mode and the volume never seems to be able to be turned up loud enough where I can comfortably hear what is going on.

The graphics in the game are very impressive.  Really awe-inspiring, however, is how big the game’s map is and how accurate it is to Los Angeles and the surrounding area in California recreated as Los Santos, Sandy Shores, and Blaine County.  Being from the LA area, I felt right “at home,” and the lighting in the game makes it that much more authentic.  The wilderness and desert areas are much more fleshed out compared to how they looked like in GTA: San Andreas.  You can even hunt in the wilderness.  While GTA V is a “revisiting” of San Andreas, the lack of San Fierro and Las Venturas can sort of irk you if you are a stickler for the “lore” of Grand Theft Auto.  As a result of having the game be more focused on Los Santos itself, we got a much more detailed and expansive city.  The radio stations are also pretty good and varied.  There are some great tracks, but since nothing can ever live up to GTA: Vice City, we’ll just have to say it’s about as good as it can be.

A part of the experience to note is that ever since the Hot Coffee controversy became a big deal with GTA: San Andreas, Rockstar started becoming more and more daring with what actual sex content they choose to depict.  While GTA IV poked fun at themselves by saying “hey wanna have some HOT COFFEE” and then had a lot of groaning noises saying how good the coffee is, in GTA V they literally have people having sex in plain view as part of missions — not something that is really optional like dating.  And I don’t think anyone even gave a fuck (pun!) about it this time around!  I was laughing my ass off when I saw one of the “movie stars” getting pounded doggie style as you take pictures of her, which resulted in her chasing after you in her convertible trying to kill you.  GTA V can just be a lot of fun.  You can also call random characters up to “hang out” with them and play mini-games, but as opposed to GTA IV, you aren’t forced to maintain any relationships and as a result there doesn’t seem to be any benefits from them now.

Playing the game for about 50 hours, I can say that GTA V is the best game of the series.  Growing and changing as a gamer since playing GTA III, I find myself less and less inclined to just “fuck around” for an endless amount of time.  I just got through the missions, played a couple of the repeatable side missions, and called it.  Ostensibly, it was worth my $60 regardless, but the point of mentioning it is that sandbox games have become a more focused experience and can be less about “go do anything you want” and more about “here’s the things we want you to do, go do it the way you want to do it.”  This is the way gaming has evolved and I do enjoy a more focused experience for sandbox games since they can get very distracting at times.  Not to say that you CAN’T just go do anything you want to do for hours on end, but it pushes you towards what it wants you to do much more than other GTA games.

GTA V also comes with GTA: Online, which is basically just a fleshed out version of the multiplayer from GTA IV.  GTA: Online is structured more like a free-to-play MMO game with progression of your character, and also gets back to the more “gamey” aspects of the Grand Theft Auto series than the single player experience offers.  There’s definitely more people playing it than GTA IV’s online mode, but since GTA: Online is almost its own game entirely, I will just review it later if I get around to it.  It is constantly changing as well since they will be adding patches and re-balancing as time goes on.

GTA V is good, and I hope to see more for the game soon.

-~-

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The Saga of ArchNacho & Tortilla Godzilla

September 21st, 2013 Posted in Internet, Screwed Up Chronicles 1 Comment »

ArchNacho and Tortilla Godzilla’s Quality Roms was a really funny ROM site that went down around 2006 or so. This is from their “Saga” page.

First Scroll: Descendance

As with all great legends, the saga of ArchNacho & Tortilla Godzilla is clouded in mystery. In truth, no one knows with certainty what took place those days in a distant past. What is known, however, is that during the month of July in the year 1999, two deities descended from the heavens to this earth to bring light, joy and quality ROMs to the starving, quality-conscious emu-gamers. They had seen wickedness grow in the realm of man and they were worried. Finally, they decided that something would have to be done; they would have to bring light back into the world. And so it was that ArchNacho & Tortilla Godzilla left their heavenly abodes and descended unto the earth.

Wherever they went, they saw sin: the wicked men had piled up ROMs in great numbers, without reviewing a single one, without even a screenshot to guide the lost souls! Some had attempted to hide their sins with glorious web design, and men were easily deceived by this trickery! Others attempted to lead visitors astray by hiding the true ROMs between false links leading to sponsors, to fill their own greedy pockets! Hear ye my word, and heed it well: this is the worst sin of all! Luring the innocent with promises of ROMs that do not exist, in order to fill your own pockets or increase your own fame is unforgivable, and those who commit such devilish acts will forever be frozen in the cold pits of Shukarnach! And hear ye, you who would let your banners POP UP and blind the purehearted with their evil messages of greed, sin and corruption: thou shalt not escape the wrath of the quality-conscious gamers!

All this ArchNacho & Tortilla Godzilla saw in the realm of man, and they knew that it was evil. They would be the light of the world, and what follows is the tale of how they banished darkness and offered to every gamer out there a chance for redemption in the splendour of ArchNacho & Tortilla Godzilla’s Quality ROMs! No more would their souls be corrupted by unreviewed ROMs without screenshots, deceitful links and pop-upping sponsor banners! Take these words to heart, dear reader, for salvation lies within! Rejoice sinners, for your redemption is here!

Second Scroll: “Salvation”

And so it came to pass, in an age long gone, that ArchNacho & Tortilla Godzilla’s Quality ROMs was born. In the Rochmann castle, strategically positioned on the slope of Mt. Kjølen, in a city called Tromsø far, far to the north in a kingdom known as Norway, the two began their hard work. Initial results were not as good as they had hoped, but ArchNacho & Tortilla Godzilla had no intention of giving up, so they struggled on. The huddled masses of the net were in desperate need of this shining beacon of hope, integrity and quality ROMs!

Finally, one cold August evening, the first draft was ready and released unto the net. One might say that it looked like crap, and one would not be entirely incorrect.Yet, intentions were good, the jokes were crazy, and the graphics were arguably so crappy it was funny! After all, the Christians spent 400 years collecting and deciding on their new testament, whereas these triumphant two had completed their holy texts in only a few months. In addition, the great advantage of AN&TG’s Quality ROMs over all other holy texts, quickly became apparent: it was ever-expanding and ever-improving! Ever onwards for greater enlightenment and a larger collection of Quality ROMs!

-~-

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My Geometry Test Grades

September 21st, 2013 Posted in Dave's Kingdom, Screwed Up Chronicles No Comments »

I took Geometry in 10th grade in high school.  We had to get each one of our test grades signed off by our parents.  Pretty much after every test I got a lecture from my mom.  I was pretty bad at geometry, mostly because of the proofs.

1st semester:

72
39
74
57
57
32
80
58
74
72

2nd semester:

50
73
66
66
72
91
43
86
46
80

Pretty hilarious, really.  I ended up getting a C anyway, so I didn’t have to retake the class during summer.

-~-

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Why Hitler Gained Power

September 21st, 2013 Posted in Screwed Up Chronicles, World No Comments »

The #1 reason that Hitler gained power was because of propaganda.  Without propaganda, the unemployed would not have known about the Nazis in the first place, which would give their party power.  A lot of propaganda was used.

The #2 reason that Hitler gained power was the unemployment rate during the Depression.  The Nazis talked about radical changes that appealed to the unemployed, and got their votes.

The election was the #3 reason Hitler gained power.  With the help of the unemployed the Nazi party gained an immense amount of power from the people.

And because everyone was drunk the end.

-~-

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The Control of American Culture

September 4th, 2013 Posted in Screwed Up Chronicles, World No Comments »

The control of American culture comes from the government, and those who have influence on our everyday lives.  For example, the government imposes dress codes, bans books, etc.  So that eventually one day these things will come into normal practice without second thinking their choice, as if these bans on laws on ridiculous things were never there.  With the dress code for instance, they intend to make everyone not wear certain types of clothing.

Since students can’t wear them, demand for them goes down and eventually is erased from existence, as habits are built on the next generation to not wear these types of clothing ever again.  This goes for anything else that is trying to alter the way we think or how we want to do things so that they will have more and more control over culture, and us, according to an unknown group controlling it all.

-~-

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Corporations and Society in the United States

September 3rd, 2013 Posted in Screwed Up Chronicles, World No Comments »

Corporations represent the newly changed American society, from World War I, because of the many ways that the people not in charge of the way things are running it, can take charge and be a small part of it.

The Corporation, being a new thing, brought many new businesses into the fray.  Larger sums of money and capital were made.  The hiring of more workers i these newly formed corporations increased the amount of industrial productivity, though most of the workers in the corporation were white collar workers.  The economy of United States fluctuated because of the internationalism, as it got easier to transport goods.  Industrialists were the ones that sold to other countries of the world.

As society changed, new ideas changed with it.  It gave birth to radicals and anarchists.  The radicals were for the disarmament of military weapons all over the world.  Now more locally, they were for prohibition.  These new changes were meant for the good of the people.  But every good thing has a repercussion.  For prohibition lead to lawbreakers and a higher amount of crime.  The corporations also had multiple repercussions, such as taking away the business of the smaller non-corporate businesses.

The progression of business to corporation is an example of how America progressed itself, during the years after World War I.  America ame from a rural to urban society, and for the first time, electricity was able to flow through the cities.  Due to the corporations and their rapidly changing technology, they invted the radio.  The radio helped in increasing the number of billionaires, which raised 400% from previous years, because everyone wanted a radio.

The development of corporations in the business world itself changed American society.

-~-

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Third Party Ownership

September 3rd, 2013 Posted in Screwed Up Chronicles, World No Comments »

Third party ownership is really annoying, I mean let’s take Crayola for instance.  They’re owned by Binney & Smith, which is owned by Hallmark.

It’s really stupid when you look at it.  But I guess we’ll have one thing to be looking forward to: Microsoft owning every company in every industry in the damn world, which means owning US, the government, and the world!  And then the bushes we squat by.  THen, the aliens will come and buy Microsoft which means buying the world, and all our Chipmunks compilation CDs (yes, even the Christmas ones).

Then people everyone hates, like Bill Gates, Rosie O’Donnel, Dennis Rodman, Jean Claude Van Damme, etc. will live forever just to spite us and make more reality TV shows such as Double Dare Extreme (where people use napalm instead of slime) and continuing Survivor forever.

And we can’t do anything because we don’t have any intergalactic space weapons or things that go “whoo whoo” to get rid of the aliens.

Then, the aliens make crop circles everywhere.  Even in our grass, our pretty flower fields, and our landfills.  I’m sorry, I’m getting out of hand.  Bye.

-~-

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“Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils” Breakdown

August 29th, 2013 Posted in Screwed Up Chronicles, World No Comments »

This entry is part 12 of 13 in the series Dave's Breakdown

The back of my box of Prismacolor Verithin Colored Pencils had the following to say:

A Definite Strong Point

Prismacolor Verithin Pencils have harder, more durable leads that complement the soft thick leads of the Prismacolor Art Pencils.  Specially formulated leads won’t shatter when sharp-ended.  These last longer under heavy marking and writing pressure.  The thing leads and precision points create the finest details. Verithin pencils are flexible color tools for outlining and lettering.  All 36 color match Prismacolor Art Pencils.  Available in open stock and sets.

Precision Tools of Color

  • Thin leads for small details and multiple uses
  • Hard and strong to resist breaking
  • Made form the finest pigments for bold color laydown
  • Consistent Prismacolor standards of quality
  • Available in 3 Art Sets
    • 12 colors 02476 (796)
    • 24 colors 02427 (731)
    • 36 colors 02428 (732)

And this is what davepoobond had to say about it:

Anyone that picks up a box of pencils and reads this shit on the back and believes any of that bullshit, making the colored pencils sound like Godly items, is a dumbass.  Who writes all this shit?  Do they even believe the crap they’re trying to jam down our throats?  I doubt it.

And waht’s with the numbers?  Its not like we’d actually use them, like to ask for them.  Here’s an example of how that would play out:

(a man is looking at a box of the 12 colored pencils, when a store employee comes up to him)

Store Employee:  Hello, sir.  Can I help you with something?

Customer: Ah, yes, I see you have the 02476 (796), but I can’t seem to find the 02427 (731) or 02428 (732) anywhere!

(Store Employee blinks a couple of times)

Store Employee:  Sorry I couldn’t help you with anything, have a nice day.

(Store Employee runs away)

(End)

You see how ridiculous that is?  Another that that pisses me off is that they keep repeating the same bull shit.  I can summarize the whole thing they had into this:

These colored pencils are good for small detailing and have resistance to breaking.  Comes in packs of 12, 24, or 36.

They give us unuseful information:

Multiple uses — as opposed to only one use?

Hard and Strong — thy’re the same thing.  Drop a word you bastards!

Made from the finest pigments for bold color laydown — What th ehell does bold color laydown mean?  They expect everyone to know that?  How about I boldly lay down my color into your face!!!!

Consistent Prismacolor standards of quality — this means absolutely shit to me.  What would it matter to me about their “standards?”  Their standards could be shitty for all we know.

They also advertise their art pencils about 3 times in the same thing, making you have to think that you absolutely need their art pencils.

What the hell is with their “flexible color tools” phrase?  Do these pencils bend?  Can I tighten a screw with these pencils?  Or maybe get around that sharp corner so I could tighten the yellow on the paper?  Great, thanks assholes!

And their paragraph just looks like a bunch of unrelated sentences tossed together.  The only relating factor to any other sentence is just the amount of bullshit that emanates from the box.

Bull shit.  All crap I tell ye!  Crap!  Crap, I say!  I tell you its pure crap!  Crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap crap shit shit shit shit shit shit!  Good color pencils, though.  =) =) =) =)

-~-

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