Bear With Me: Episode 3 (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: Exordium Games || Overall: 4.0/10

Click here for the Bear With Me: Episode 2 review.

I “beared” with this game for nearly ten hours spread out over a year. What we got for a third and final episode was underwhelming at best.  The last throws of the story went in a direction that took me by surprise — in a bad way.  Three banana cookies later, I’m completely in awe of the lack of gameplay Bear With Me: Episode 3 has and how much of the creative capital went towards the boring, sappy, and superficially contrived story.

The story could have gone in a lot of different directions, and perhaps I could have guessed where the story was heading, but we are left with something limp and illogical.  If it had to deal with subject matter that was going on, it might have actually been worthwhile.  I may have even been able to sweep issues with the story under the rug if there had been more gameplay; the entire episode is a cycle of ten minutes of gameplay and then thirty minutes of story, until the last act where it’s about half story and half lazily-designed puzzles and dialogue trees.  Why wasn’t it just a visual novel if they were so uninterested in having a game?  There weren’t as many puzzles or extra objects to click on compared to previous episodes and the jokes were almost completely excised — quite a departure from the “selling points” touted for the title. There are multiple endings, but none of the choices you made throughout really seemed to have mattered, or at least they didn’t make it obvious that something was affected in any particular way.

Most importantly, the conclusion to this long story needed to bring worthwhile closure.  There was no pay off from the creepy imagery portrayed in any of the three episodes.  The antagonist doesn’t get brought to justice.  Nothing really foreshadowed what the “point” of the story was until the last thirty minutes where you could instantly see where it was headed.  There was never anything smart or worthwhile happening.  The story hit a wall and since I couldn’t come to care for Amber’s character or the situation she is in due to the ridiculousness of the plot devices, I was left simply groaning.  Amber still remained as emotionally detached as ever except for a pivotal moment just before the end sequence — I was frankly surprised they even bothered animating something new for her.

In my experience, the audio was buggy and dialogue cut off at the last word often.  The time it took for the next line of dialogue was very short and didn’t sound natural (not exclusive to this episode, I might add).  Oddly, this episode was noticeably littered with weird typos or grammar issues, unlike the first two episodes.  The art is about equal to what has been seen before, and much of it re-used except for the new locales and a couple of new incidental characters.  Only a couple of characters show up more than one time, but the majority of the characters you’ve ever met through the entirety of the three episodes ended up being throwaways; their fates are of no concern because you’re never given a reason to care for them.

There’s really not much more to say about the game without completely spoiling it.

**SPOILERS**

**SPOILERS**

Basically, the story doesn’t matter.  The last thirty minutes of the game is the basis for the entire conflict, and we find the underlying reason we are in this mess is “banana cookies.”

Banana cookies??????????? Yes, that’s right folks.

Here’s the situation: if you are deathly allergic to bananas, yet your parents buy and bake cookies with them then only feed them to your brother, that is considered child endangerment.  Your parents are playing with literal fire keeping bananas in the house to begin with.  But these idiots are cooking them, having the fumes go everywhere, and also have to constantly worry how their ten-year old daughter might eat a banana product because she’s a dumb kid.  Not to mention, feeding supposedly-tasty banana cookies to her brother exclusively while only giving the daughter shitty cookies to eat instead… What the fuck did they think was going to happen?

So, why did banana cookies play a pivotal role in this story?  Amber eats a banana cookie, she’s about to die, choking on the floor, the parents call a cab to take her to the hospital, then decide its a good idea to leave their young son at home, alone, while they are dealing with this easily preventable, yet important issue.  It just so happens while the son is at home, a fire happens in the apartment below and then he dies of carbon monoxide poisoning.  …Banana cookies?????  WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON????  Why are they calling a cab to go to the hospital with a choking child?  CALL A DAMN AMBULANCE!  PUT THESE PARENTS IN JAIL, TAKE THEIR CHILDREN AWAY FROM THEM.  Why didn’t they just take their son with them???? I didn’t even know banana cookies existed until now!

So, the brother is dead; I could see that coming.  What I didn’t see is how little any of the story of Bear With Me actually had to do with this seemingly important story point, which they used as the linchpin for our emotion in feeling sorry for Amber.  However, that’s not what the story is about at all.  It’s about her relationship with her teddy bear.  Yet, there are also many other unexplained questions. Why is her imagined world rebelling against her?  Why does Amber forget things?  If this fire played such a big part in Amber’s life, why are fires used so sparingly in events throughout the story? Why does it seem like she has the pop culture knowledge of a 30-something year old?  Most of all, why is she seeing crazy shit?

If the game were brave, it would have addressed these issues in a more serious way.  I thought it was obvious this was all pointing towards some sort of serious domestic child abuse situation or a traumatic event that she actively witnessed which caused her imagination to show fucked up things to her, or something like that.  Instead, we got banana cookies and being told that the antagonist of the game was Amber all along. Whatever the fuck that means.  Also, why did Amber really even care about her brother?  We see and know nothing about their relationship to make us care that this brother even existed.  It would have been more interesting had he NEVER existed.  I suppose the brother being dead could count as the “traumatic event” that I asked for, but again, we don’t see how it could be since we know N-O-T-H-I-N-G about their relationship, not to mention no outright hints or foreshadowing to this fact.  Amber was the focus of the story throughout, and the brother was supposed to be a plot device, not the plot.  We never find out why Amber is looking for her dead brother in the attic, either, when she should have known her brother was dead; this leads back to the question of why she forget things.  There was never a concerted effort of actually finding the brother because we were too sidetracked with pop culture jokes.

The “red cloth” was supposed to be important, I guess, since it was actually colored red, as opposed to everything else that was in grayscale.  Across three episodes, it ended up only taking up inventory space and was barely ever used.  Of course this is an equally contrived plot device as it is ripped from a firefighter’s uniform by Amber on the day of the fire — first, how in the hell can a 10 year old girl rip a firefighter’s uniform, and second, I’ve never even heard of a red firefighter uniform, so that definitely shows a strange cultural divide despite supposedly taking place in America. It would seem to make sense since banana cookies must be more popular elsewhere in the world.  It must also be another cultural thing where you don’t call an ambulance, but call a taxi to take you to the hospital, because we all know those get to your house faster than an ambulance.

I remember they had planned for five episodes, but it seems they cut those plans and dumped the rest of whatever they had in mind into Episode 3.  The mystery fell flat after losing its way, and there was nothing that made me feel like it was worth the time investment when all was said and done.  What really gets me is the lack of gameplay sections and how everything is just so… misplaced.  The never-ending forest thing didn’t make much sense in its inclusion, nor did the trippy horror dungeon located within, since none of the horror-type imagery mattered.  There’s also “gaps” in the story where it felt like I missed an entire act and no one was going to clue me in on any of what happened.  It would seem important to have a complete story, but I guess I’m expecting too much.

So, I’m sad to see how this all ended up.  It took nearly a year to figure out Bear With Me is not worth the time investment.  The biggest pun of the game really was the title itself, after all.

 

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

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.

When not writing reviews as Unnamedhero, Eduardo Luquin can be reached at unnamedheromk13@gmail.com.

 

The Prefect Candy Bar

Alone in an alley, the mayor of Candybarrio in Foodland, Cassius Candybar was strolling through.  It wasn’t exactly the safest of places to take a brisk walk, considering the last five high profile homicides had taken place here, in which all of the victims were mutilated to the point of being called a different food.  No one knew what a Tomato Chocolate Smoothie was until last week when Clive Tomato and Sandy Chocandy were murdered and blended together.

“What kind of murderous, Foodlandish person would be able to exist?” the local news stations explored that question to no avail and received higher ratings than ever before.  Conspiracy theorists even started to believe the news stations themselves were propagating this uptake in mutilation-type violence — or even hiring people to commit them so there would be more news coverage!

The sad truth of the matter was, that it was not that simple… Cassius knew more than he had let on in his myriad of interviews.  To cut the mystery short, it was Cassius who had murdered the the five Foodlandish in the alley.  He was using the publicity of the murders to propel himself to the forefront of the minds of Foodlandish in the upcoming elections.

And his plan was working.

That was, until a copycat murderer decided to open his killing spree with a high-profile target.  Banana-Face the Orange had trained with his knife skills for like three hours before he came to the alley behind Roger and Jefferson’s Waffle House and Croissant Bakery.

It didn’t take too much effort to slice the ligaments in Cassisus’ legs… and before Cassius could do anything, a six-inch fruit peeler was jutted into his back.  Banana-Face twisted the fruit peeler slowly as the caramel began to ooze out of Cassius.  In his screams came more and more pain.  The nougat began to ooze out along with the caramel and Banana-Face’s Relentless Fruit Peeler began to dig at Cassius’ peanuts.  Once the hole was big enough, Banana-Face thrust his hand into Cassius and grabbed a peanut, ripping it from his nougaty center.

Cassius did everything he could to crawl away but it was to no avail.  Banana-Face enraged and began to rapidly stab Cassius in his back.  He began to bash Cassius’ head with his own peanut and caramel began to ooze from the back of his head.  Cassius’ last ditch effort was to get his Battery-Powered Blender Knife from his right pocket.  He reached for it and turned it on.

Banana-Face was in the middle of another Stab-and-Twist when Cassius flipped over, causing him to lose his balance.   Cassius raised the whirring Blender Knife into the air and came into Banana-Face’s lower extremities.  Banana-Face screamed louder than Cassius had, and orange juice sprayed onto Cassius’ face as he laughed maniacally, exacting his painful revenge on the orange.  Orange pulp began to spray, as the knife got closer to Banana-Face’s core.

Cassius removed the Blending Knife and readied his thrust again.  In that instant, Banana-Face reached and grabbed the fruit peeler in Cassius’ back and used it as a handle to get closer to Cassius before his next thrust.  Cassius screamed in pain, but that didn’t do much to offset his balance as the blending knife came from the right and into Banana-Face’s side.  They both screamed at the top of their lungs in their weird hug-like stance.

The alley was full of orange caramel juice.  It flowed like a miniature river as it ended up into a grate on the floor.  Banana-Face’s life force drained away and he eventually fell limp.  Cassius fell to the ground as well, but in victory.  He was relieved he had survived the ordeal, but little did he know, a new threat loomed beneath the alley — a fire-breathing Drah-Gun!

Shunookle the Drah-Gun was on a vacation from Nikpan and thought the sewer system in Foodland would provide for a nice respite from the hustle and bustle of Dragon Town.  Unfortunately for her, this was the sixth extremely loud murder to occur within the last week, and it was pissing her off!  She burst out of the alley’s asphalt and flew into the air, throwing asphalt all over the place and flying away.

Cassius Candybar was ultimately known for killing all tourism in Candybarrio once Shunookle the Drah-Gun posted on BizarroBook, the world’s most popular social network that Candybarrio was a very loud and unsafe place to visit.

Moral of the story: Considering the consequences of your actions is prudent in matters of politics.

 

Quote #21094: Dialogue

Juan: “Hi, Mrs. Garcia!”

Mrs. Garcia: “Hi, Juan!”

Juan: “I like your banana.”

Mrs. Garcia: “yes, it is very long, no?”

Juan: “yes”

Mrs. Garcia: “the size of my banana is 12”

Juan: “what is the price?”

Mrs. Garcia: “the jacket is 999 pesos”

Juan: “good”

Mrs. Garcia: “yes”

Juan: “yes, bye”

– by davepoobond and BlindBubba.  Written in Spanish for an assignment, and then translated into English by davepoobond.

 

Masturbata

Parody of Los Del Rio – Macarena

by Adam Sandler

Sitting in my house, and I know that I’m alone,
Feeling kinda horny, got a jingle in my bone
Go and grab a Penthouse it’s the one with Sharon Stone
Hey Masturbata!

I go a little faster and its feeling kind of nice,
Once ain’t enough so I have to do it twice
If you wanna spank the monkey I can give you good advice
Hey Masturbata!

I use some baby oil or a little Vaseline,
Laying down a towel so I keep my carpet clean
Never shake my hand cause you don’t know where its been
Hey Masturbata!

I do it in the car when I’m driving down the street,
One hand on the wheel and the other on my meat
I can’t get out the car cause I’m sticking to the seat
Hey Masturbata!

Since I was a kid I have been a masturbater,
Choke the chicken; hum the knob, squeezing the tomato
I’ve looked at Ms. November now I’m gonna decorate her
Hey, Masturbata!

Buffing the banana, Mr. Lizard shaking bacon,
Pounding on the flounder and its mayonnaise I’m makin’.
Spank the frank, wax the carrot, god my hand is achin’.
Hey, Masturbata!

 

Banana Math

You know how in first grade they used fruits to explain stuff like “one banana plus two bananas make three bananas”? Here’s a list of high school math courses based on bananas:

Algebra I – A
You have a negative banana (possibly made of antimatter).  Add two bananas to it and you get one banana.

Algebra I – B
You have a banana. Factor it, or solve for apples using the quadratic formula.

Geometry
Prove: Bananas are not vegetables. Given: Bananas are fruits.

Algebra II
You have an imaginary banana. Square it, and you get one of those weird anti-matter bananas. The student learns that their dreams will become reality if they only raise them to the fourth power.

Pre-Calculus
What is the cosecant of Pi over 2 bananas in a unit apple?

Calculus AB
The student learns to find the slope of a banana.

Calculus BC
The student learns to find the slope of a banana and also to find the area under the banana.