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.



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.


The Cranes and the Masking Tape

One day there was a family of cranes nesting happily below a huge fountain at an amusement park.  There were six cranes in all, happily living life, feeding from the crumbs dropped by the forever-eating patrons of the amusement park.

There was the mother, Sealee, and her beautiful husband, Archibald, who had four wonderful crane children.  The two oldest were twins, String Bean 1 and String Bean 2 (also known as The Twins String Bean collectively), followed by their sister Celithrulith and lastly, but certainly not least, came beautiful baby Stotch.

Stotch was only a few months old but was already showing great signs of growing up into a prestigious adult male.  He was the crown jewel of the family, because he was really pretty, cause he was a male, and males are pretty, and the only thing Sealee and Archibald would talk about to the other cranes they met while flying around the amusement park at night when all the a-hole tourists are gone.  However, because they were not as important as the new baby, the three sisters secretly met in the one place their parents would never think to look —  the bathroom — in order to find a way to get rid of “stupid baby Stotch.”

“We could strangle him!” the Twins String Bean shouted in the refracting walls of the bathroom.

“NOT SO LOUD!” Celi, short for Celithrulith, screeched at the twins.  “Strangling MIGHT be the best option, since us cranes have fragile necks….!”

The Twins String Bean started laughing in unison.

“But what should we strangle him with?!?” 1 said.

2 said, “Rope?”

1 said, “String?”

2 said, “A sweater?”

1 said, “A bowling ball?”

1 and 2 started rattling off random objects for about two minutes when Celi finally came to an epiphany.

“Masking tape…!”

All three cranes started squawking in excitement!  Masking tape was the worst feeling in the world for their feathers.  It stuck to it like no other adhesive and when you took it off, it took some feathers with it!

It was three weeks since the death of Stotch…  and the investigation was going nowhere!  Due to the chains of bureaucracy in the town of Beauracracy, also the fact that Tax-Free Furniture Week has been going on for three weeks no one gave a shit about the murder of a lowly no-tax-paying crane.  Sealee and Archibald had been crying ever since they found young Stotch strangled behind the river rapids depot, with the feathers around his neck ripped off.  His poor, fragile, neck had to been bent in an awkward direction.  As the tide came in at the river rapids, his body had traveled from where the murder had actually taken place, which still has yet to be found.

Sealee and Archibald spent the coming weeks in the company of their religious community, with Father Snewrug holding a ceremony for Stotch’s burial.  The three sisters, silently happy that all has been going according to plan, played along with the proceedings, no one the wiser that the murderers were with them the whole time.

Stotch’s spirit roamed the grounds of the amusement park for hundreds of years, as the Stotch the Crane Spirit became a theme during the Halloween event.  Eventually the park, renamed Stotch’s Scary Crane Park could not sustain on ghost stories alone.  It was closed down, and Stotch was truly alone, the images of his murder playing in his mind over and over.  Globs of masking tape littered the abandoned amusement park like tumbleweed, blowing across the landscape.

Stotch’s colors were very beautiful, even for a ghost.  It was what made him so noticeable when he appeared to people squawking in their faces.  Occasionally he would have been seen staring at people with his mouth wide open as he “watched” people going to the bathroom.  The things you can get away with as a ghost!

Stotch was feeling particularly even more alone than usual once the amusement park had been closed down.  It seemed like no one really cared about him, and there weren’t even any ghost-themed investigation reality TV shows coming to see find him anymore.

The abandoned amusement park was once again occupied when a sect of the human race, known scientifically as “Hipsters” began moving in.  They thought it would be so cool to live in an abandoned amusement park where no one would be able to criticize their tight jeans and hipster-sounding music.  They would have movie nights where they could watch all the classics, like Gone With the Windie Rock Festival, and The Fantastic Mr. Anti-Establishment Tight Jean Designer.

Ah, yes, life was grand in the old spooky haunted abandoned amusement park full of hipsters.  That was, until Stotch had enough of the hipster crap and Hot Topic receipts littering his home!  One by one, Stotch squawked very loudly in the face of each hipster, appearing and disappearing in a blinding flash.  Not only was he assaulting their senses, but he was ruining their movie nights and their mini-musical festivals that hipsters always like to say they attend.

Hipster-Honcho Jake Guldinthal, leader of the Hipsters proclaimed that all of his friends (also known as “subjects” in non-hipster lingo) should perform a séance to rid themselves of their ghostly companion.  His squawking ruined the best scene in Clearance-Priced Wedding, where the Princess of Bargain Bin Town finally said “I DO” to the Prince of Upscale Department Store Town and had a 50 minute-long lovemaking scene in which there was no nudity, and only money being used to touch each other.  It had something to do with using money for not-its-intended-purposes or something like that.  The movie ended with a wad of sweaty cash being thrown into the trash can.  Stotch’s fifty-one minute squawk would probably be a world record.  But, alas, the Hipster Congregation’s Hipster Council met in the Merry Go-Round to discuss their ghost infestation.  The only solution was to summon the bird into the open and shoo him away for good.

The cheapest psychic in the area, Jorge Yulonzagonez, a half Chinese, half Mexican, half Japanese man was hired to get rid of the ghost.  Now, you might be asking why this man is three halves of a person.  That’s because he is a conjoined “twin” with two heads, but both heads have the same consciousness.  Don’t ask why, but both brains work in unison with each other and when he speaks, both heads speak at the same time.  Sometimes he’s able to make one of them not say anything, if he’s making a joke, though.

Jorge Yulonzagonez came by in his station wagon, and the hipsters were all in a large circle around the bathroom building – the place where most of the activity seems to originate.  Jorge’s two heads spoke in unison, “Hello, my friends .  We are here today to exterminate this ghost of the day… this ghost of the night… this ghost that has been ruining your hipster musical festivals!  How dare this ghost ruin movie night and make your sensitive man leggings stretch further than they are meant to stretch!”

At that moment, Jimmy Santiago broke down and began to cry into his hands.  Those around him comforted him.

Jorge pointed towards Jimmy.  “It will be alright, my friend!  This puta will pay for the crimes he has committed!  Just because he’s a ghost, doesn’t give him free reign on being a jerk!”

Jimmy Santiago agreed with the empowering words and patted his comforting friends on the shoulder, thanking them for their support.

“Now, let us join hands and begin the expunging of this fowl ghost!”  Jorge got on top of a random box and began waving his hands around like a bird.

“CAW… CAW CAW!!!  SHOO GHOST!  SHOO!   LEAVE THIS PLACE!!” Jorge squawked like a bird.

Stotch screeched a howling screech that made all of the hipsters start dancing.  It sounded just like one of those bands they had at their last indie music festival, that they didn’t realize that it was actually a ghost!

Stotch manifested in front of Jorge, unable to disappear.  He stood in place and flapped his wings in an aggressive fashion.

Jorge pointed to Stotch.  “YOU!  GHOST!!!  LEAVE THIS PLACE IMMEADIATELY!”

Stotch fluttered his feathers.  “Who are you to tell me to leave this place?  I’ve lived here for a very long time and if you think some two-headed jerk can make me leave after what I’ve endured these years, you’ve got another thing coming, sir.  I was murdered in a bathroom and dumped into an amusement park water ride by my own jealous sisters!”

The hipsters all started crying.  It was like the plot from their favorite sappy movie that they never knew existed.  The only thing missing was a flight jacket and some ripped tight jeans with some shaggy hair cut.

Just then, a fleet of Versikons, a flying human species that is known to be a Hipster’s predator, swooped in on the crowd of crying hipsters.  They all dispersed and ran away crying into the distance as a few of them were lifted into the air and had their musical tastes demeaned by the Versikons.  Soon the Hipsters left the amusement park entirely, and only Jorge and Stotch remained.

“I didn’t see that coming.”  Jorge said from both of his heads.

Stotch agreed.

“Well, onto the next abandoned amusement park, eh Stotch?”  Jorge continued.


Jorge hopped onto Stotch and rode off into the sunset.  As they rode away, three female crane ghosts fluttered in the air.  On each neck hung shreds of masking tape…!


The End.


Candy Crush Saga (iOS): A Soccer Mom’s Review

This entry is part 3 of 3 in the series Soccer Mom Dave

This is a satire about the way a certain “parent” would look upon a video game. It’s written as if it was for a site that was run by mothers who denounce controversial video games based on third party information rather than actually experiencing it themselves, and making rash judgments about things they have little knowledge about. The name of this “mother” is Soccer Mom Dave.

Developer/Publisher: King Games  | Soccer Mom Score:  0/10

How dare they.

They made a game based on candy.

A group of buffoons who have enough gall to create a game so delicious-looking that it influences my children to eat candy!!!!!! All of these developers who made this game will rot in Candy Hell – don’t they know that America’s obesity epidemic starts and ends with the media? Games like Candy Crush Saga influence our children to become stupid, fat, obese adults who want to eat more candy and junk food. Jelly, whip cream, gum balls, exploding candy, chocolate balls with sprinkles that turn everything else into exploding candy! What kind of a sick mind would think of this stuff?

Not only does this game appeal to children, since they put a little child in the game as the main “protagonist” but they also try to appeal to sexy fatherly men who wear suits, just like this butler guy who tells you how to accomplish all of these massively unappealing, evil puzzles while talking in a sultry voice. It is just perfect that this game is a “match-three” game – it influences our children and prospective husbands to always want to eat candy in groups of three, four, or five. Not only that, but you get rewarded for matching higher combos, implying that you will succeed if you eat more candy! What lies are they feeding the general public with their implications!? There are absolutely no disclaimers that this candy is Calorie-Free, or even Fat-Free! Eating candy will kill you. Also, dragons and talking robots do not exist. I don’t know why they even put them in this slow-and-torturous-murder simulator. The dragon probably has diabetes from swimming in sugar water too long.

As if my life wasn’t terrible enough before this game came out, for free, I now have to deal with my children begging me for candy and acting like the whip cream in the game. They hug my knees, and don’t allow me to move until I clear them out. The only way I can get them to leave me alone is by pelting them with candy, just like in the game, and then I can move more freely. Sometimes my children cover themselves with Jelly and the only way to remove the Jelly is by throwing multiple combinations of candy at the Jelly chunks on their faces. My children are also recreating the game board from Candy Crush Saga in our 10-acre backyard with 300+ levels, just like in the game. When my husband gets home, all he does is drink beer and neglect me and my children, so it’s not like he’s going to put a stop to this madness! I wish that I could hire a butler to escort my children around this hugely elaborate candy game that is evolving in my backyard.

And just like the real-life version in my backyard, Candy Crush Saga was probably play-tested by all of three people, none of them paid. What’s the point of balancing a game when you can charge people anywhere from a dollar to FORTY damn dollars to cheat on an unbalanced game? Instead of trying to make the game a “fun,” balanced, and healthy experience, they’ve created a death machine meant to extort money and make the obesity epidemic even worse! Candy Crush Saga takes over the minds of the sheep we call our fellow humans and bleeds them dry for “power-ups” that shouldn’t even exist in a balanced game. No wonder they made 300 levels – you will inevitably be stuck on level 30, and never be able to play the other 90% of the game unless you pay to cheat! The temptation is absolutely unbearable! My children, both with iPhone 5s, have spent nearly 200 dollars each on this game to cheat. In real life, cheating is free — all you have to do is skirt around your obligations and make the other guy pay for the hotel. This game doesn’t teach my children any valuable or “useful” lessons.

Why can’t they make Health Food Saga, instead? It would have relieved my potential stress levels immeasurably. They should have used Fat-free milk, Baby Carrots, Asian Pears, Romaine Lettuce, Cherry Tomatoes and Vitamin Pills.



The Wise Tennis Ball

Tenny the Tennis Ball has been stuck in the same fence for 15 years.  Oh, the stories he could tell you about Rochestor Elementary School.  Tenny wasn’t always in a fence, though.  At one point, he was used as a tool for mass infliction of pain!

But, ever since he was thrown into the very top rung of the fence, Tenny observed the school and all of the events that transpired below.

Unbeknownst to anyone, Tenny is a romantic.  He longed for the days when he was trapped between two other tennis balls to whom he could have constant contact with in the metal tube he came from.  He is into the multi-racial thing, too, as one was green and the other was orange.

It isn’t easy being stuck in a fence at a lowly school in Missouri.  No one ever says, “Hi,” to him and when the seasons change, he weathers the weather without so much as a glimpse from a 5th grader.

There Tenny stayed stuck in a fence, never minded upon, simply unnoticed, always observing.

That is, until an electrical storm forced an alien spaceship into the atmosphere!  They were planning an attack on a K-Mart building that had gained sentience and was threatening to collect on the layaways the aliens had at the store.  The Layawaliens’ plans were foiled when the K-Mart Building #1335 created an electrical storm to foil them.

The immense radiation blast that came from the Layawaliens’ ship was focused solely at Tenny the Tennis Ball.  His simple existence of being stuck in a fence had instantly become something more… and as the Layawaliens tried to restabalize and exit the atmosphere, a second large burst of radiation hit Tenny and he sprouted legs, and arms, and a brain, and a head, and a kidney… two even!  He had become what he only knew… and elementary school kid.  A 5th grader, to be exact.

But he was still stuck in a fence, body organs hanging out every which way because there was no room for him to grow “naturally.”  There he groaned and lamented in pain as his tennis-ball-fur-covered organs hung and bounced around as he tried to free himself to no avail.

How he longed even more for the days of being a normal tennis ball!  This being a half-human-half-tennis-ball thing got old after about ten minutes of having two swinging kidneys.

There he stayed over the weekend until the children went out to recess.  It’s sort of hard to not notice this weird human hybrid monster thing hanging at the top of the fence.  Some children started to throw rocks and insults at Tenny for no reason.  He hated being “human” and hated humans, too!

Just then, the K-Mart Building #1335 developed space flight capability and empathically felt Tenny’s pain.  If K-Mart Building #1335 wanted a life-hating space captain, Tenny was it.

As the K-Mart building lifted off it made a tractor beam shoot out and rip off the piece of the fence that Tenny was stuck in and levitated it into its roll-up doors and exited the atmosphere.  Tenny the Tennis Ball was given a chair that fit the contours of his new body perfectly.  Even though he was still stuck in afence, he was able to integrate his thoughts with the space-bound building.

First order of business, was a volley of phasers and rockets and contact solution as well as several types of canned goods at Rochester Elementary.  There were tons of screaming children as they were splashed with exploding cases of contact solution and pelted with canned cucumbers and peaches.  The phasers targeted the handball and four-square courts to the children would never get to play at recess again.  This would lead to diabetes in 3/4 of the children and they wouldn’t be able to eat any fun food for the rest of their lives.

The K-Mart building communicated to Tenny that it was going to follow the damaged Layawalien ship back to its home planet and collect on its layaways in full, even if that means taking over their planet.

The Layawaliens ship finally made its way back to its home planet of Layaway Planet, where everything on the planet took a decade to pay for, so it was all old-looking shit.  The defensive capabilities of the planet were no match for K-Mart Building #1335, and soon it landed on the planet, creating a fortress around itself and infecting the population with a derivative of salmonella from its sliced Turkey products that the Layawaliens foolishly took it out on layaway from the store.

Three weeks after the fortress had been completed and 90% of the Layawalien population had food poisoning and stomachaches, Tenny declared Layaway Planet the property of K-Mart Building #1335.  The Layawaliens were forced to sign a treaty agreeing to this fact, so that they would be able to get antacids and cures for the salmonella poisoning that threatened their race.

Tenny thought back to his simpler days of being stuck in a fence as a normal tennis ball.  Look how far he had come, in such a short time.

Moral:  When your life is changed drastically, think of the consequences it has on others as well.


Having a Child Is Child Abuse

This has been stirring in my head for the past month or so.  There’s this recent uptake in the health community that having a child that is obese or overweight is considered child abuse.

Now, let’s take a step back here.

Why would you consider having a child as being overweight the ONLY form of… let’s call it “contemporary child abuse.”

Couldn’t you say that having a child at all would constitute as child abuse?  As soon as they pop out of the womb, they are subjected to torture day in and day out.  They must breathe polluted air.  They have to deal with getting sick.  They have to deal with everything that kids have to deal with.  Why not call all of the problems that children have to deal with child abuse because their parents could’ve done something more to prevent anything from happening to them?  They could have made them wash their hands after every contact with something that has germs on it.  What if a child has a fever that goes to 103 and they are forced to take medicine that tastes bad?

I would even go so far as to say that if you allowed a child to be born with a birth defect, whether or not it was your fault, this would also constitute as child abuse, since you are now forcing your child to live with a defect.  The “right thing” to do in this case would have been to abort the baby and save them years of “torture.”

Where does it end?

If people are considering having children that are overweight in any capacity as an allegation of child abuse, then why aren’t we looking at everything?  Why don’t we just remove every single child under every single parent have them raised by the government?

It would certainly solve a lot of problems society has with children.

For example, the state will never pay to have their employees bring annoying little kids to Rated R movies.  They will never be seen at the mall making loud crying noises or running around on the escalator at my job without someone getting angry at them.

They’ll be stuck in what is essentially a jail, and we’ll all be better for it.