Graceful Explosion Machine (PC) Review

 

Graceful Explosion Machine.

Developer/Publisher: Vertex Pop || Overall: 6.5/10

If I’m wrong, tell me – I have no idea what’s going on here.

The title itself almost begs the comparison to Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, a point driven home by the fact that the protagonist is inside of a yellow vehicle. Like Bay’s movies, though, little is added to the genre with GEM.

It’s not that Graceful Explosion Machine is a bad game – far from it. It’s just that it doesn’t do anything to keep me coming back after two decades of playing games similar to it. GEM is a 2D ship shooter, much like the classic Defender, right down to needing to hit a button to turn around. The game’s premise being there was, like, this big ship, or something. There was a city in it, maybe? I’m not sure. There were some gems on it, and astro pops, I dunno. Anyway, these googly-eye’d robots spheres and oblong shapes came and blew it up. A ship popped out of the explosion, and the pilot was obviously distressed that the gems they had stolen from Bejeweled had been, in turn, stolen from them. So the ship pursued, intending to set fire to their planets. It’s open to interpretation, obviously, so I’ll just post a .gif of the intro sequence so you can decide. It gets the job done, but honestly, I would have been just as happy with no story, since the stills you see explain nothing aside that you’re killing things for a reason: sweet, buttery revenge on rye, dijon mustard and a side of coleslaw. I’ll take my revenge, hold all the other stuff. Thanks.

Alright, on to gameplay. The Defender comment was a hint here: it plays like Defender. The ship is moved in the cardinal directions, but it always faces left or right, a state that is changed with space (or left trigger if you’re using a controller, and I hope you are). Aside from the dedicated turn button, there is a dash/boost to dodge through enemies. If you’re in your 30’s and 40’s, you probably know what’s up here. It’s just as riveting as before, only by this point you’ve probably played PixelJunk Shooter and stuff. Kind of like when you have a succulent ribeye steak at any point before eating a New Castle burger.

Now, for some reason this ship is unarmed until it picks up conspicuously laid out weapons in the tutorial, which is probably why these yellow guys got their shit ruined in the first place. First you get a pea shooter, which rapidly fires out blasts until it overheats, which is its only constraint. Second weapon, you get an “energy sword” which spins around twice on use, tearing into enemies and destroying enemy bullets. Next is a sniper beam, which is a very powerful beam that does a lot of damage and tears through enemy shields, but forces you to move slowly. The last is a missile barrage that can be directed out of your ship with a directional input before they race off to seek targets. With exception of the regular blaster, all weapons require weapon energy to fire. This is harvested from enemies on death via the yellow crystals they drop. The weapon energy meter doesn’t say what the max is, or how much each crystal is worth, nor is the energy required for attacks displayed anywhere, so it’s more of a fuel meter in that regard. Crystal/weapon power management seems to be the main bottleneck of player skill. Players need to swoop through slain enemies in order to get close enough to collect weapon power, which dictates how often you can use area of effect attacks. Gameplay quickly maxes out as an advanced game of chicken, blowing through enemies to collect weapon power to in turn massacre more enemies. The only real thing that mixes this up is how close enemies spawn, and if there’s an enemy that requires you to use the sniper cannon to kill quickly.

The game is divided into levels on four planets. A few open up for play, unlocking more as you complete them, culminating in a “warp” level to move on to the next planet. Each level has phases, which are this game’s checkpoint system; waves of enemies will spawn throughout an endlessly scrolling cave section as the player kills everything. Points are awarded for each kill, a multiplier in effect for consecutive kills and keeping a spree going. The ship is able to take three hits before dying, but each level has two continues, which can be utilized to restart from the beginning of the last phase that was started. The game isn’t exactly easy, but with tools like these, it’s not difficult either.

There’s plenty of different enemies, but most of the time, they either require a specific approach or a specific weapon, neither of which is much of a puzzle in the grand scheme of things. The problem is inherently with the focus of the game, which is entirely on score and leaderboards, rather than actual gameplay progression. This, coupled with spawns that don’t randomize, makes for a very stale “replayability” factor. Defender, way back in the day, got away with this by being a fixture in a public place with minimal mechanics and increasingly difficult and unforgiving gameplay, mostly to siphon quarters off kids. Well, that, and Defender is 36 years old. Graceful Explosion Machine has too many mechanics that it doesn’t dole out to keep the player interested, and thus have to use new enemies in lieu of new mechanics, powers or features to keep the player interested. Maybe it’s bad to expect more from games that go for $12.99 without a discount, but competition is stiff; there’s a myriad of games competing for your cash, and unless DeMar’s and Jarvis’ Defender is the model of what you consider an amazing experience, chances are you won’t be whisked away by this without a heaping spoonful of competitive spirit. Other games offer that competitive element too, obviously.

To its credit: the game runs well, and makes use of high refresh rate monitors. The music is benign, but not bad by any means. The controls on keyboard are serviceable, though I recommend controller. What’s more to say about a game that, mechanically, is solid even if there’s no carrot on the stick past score-whoring? There’s nothing particularly wrong with it, but it’s uninspiring, like a joke you’ve heard before, or a monologue on a topic you’re uninterested in.

And, with that: I’d like to talk to you about our Lord, Gabe Newell. Our Father in Seattle, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Dot-gif us this day our daily gameplay, and forgive us our unpaid credit cards, as we…

*The droning of a long-winded joke, built on a foundation of memes, hits for 3d6 focus damage: 14 points*
*You roll d20 to save – a one*
*Quietly, you drift off; memories of your homeship and your ill-gotten Bejeweled gems haunt your dreams*

*You wake up, covered in a sticky substance. You’re not sure where you are or what you’ve been doing, but you have a feeling it was spent doing something slightly mediocre.*

That’s what the game is like. Some people might be interested, and may even find some enjoyment out of a Defender game with some extra bells and whistles, but the depth is shallow and the ride is short.

 

Forts (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: EarthWork Games | Overall: 8.0/10

Forts is described as a “physics-based RTS where foes design and build custom bases.”  Think what happens when you mash Angry Birds with Worms and you’ll get the idea of what Forts actually is.   While there is custom base building, it doesn’t inspire much imagination, and ends up being a means to an end rather than going all Minecraft on it.  Satisfying wins, weaponry, and the humorous single player story make this title a recommendable choice to play.

To cut to the chase, I enjoyed what I played of Forts.  While it isn’t that expansive in terms of number of weapons, the style of combat and the race to upgrade is actually quite a unique blend from this perspective.  The physics are very goofy when you have to deal with them on your side, but are quite entertaining when your enemy’s base is exploding.  Though there isn’t a huge variety, the weapons all feel like they have a purpose, have their own powerful upgrades and base design actually affects how they operate.

Unfortunately the biggest standout is that base design is a clunky mess.  It is very hard to expand your base, and there’s not much to help you with understanding how you should and shouldn’t build.  Your expansions can only attach to ground that is classified as “Foundation,” of which there is very little of.  Otherwise, everything else will be hanging off your previous expansions and if you get too risky, things will break off or in the most catastrophic moments, take other pieces of your base with it.  This obviously is meant to reward the better base-builder since both sides will be rushing to build a better base to destroy the others, but it can be frustrating when you don’t know how else you are supposed to build.

The ultimate goal of battles is to destroy your opponent’s Reactor.  The Reactor is located in different places in the base, but is usually in a protected location.  It is also your objective to defend yours until you destroy the enemy’s.  Most of the single player levels challenge you to think of different ways to build your base/weaponry/etc to defeat the AI before they kill you.  The AI seems competent enough on Normal and can still be a worthwhile challenge.  There are also Easy and Hard modes, if you are looking to tune the difficulty a bit.  Other than Single Player, you can play in Skirmish or Sandbox modes.  Skirmish is essentially an easy way to play a 1-on-1 fight against the AI on a chosen map.  Sandbox mode is essentially a “practice” mode where you can build as much as you like and control both players.  Forts also seems like it would be built for multiplayer, as the game is a competition between two sides.  While multiplayer can be fun, it is mostly hit or miss.

The way to join a game is through a Lobby system, rather than matchmaking.  Teams are set, people chat, and then everyone has to ready-up in the Lobby.  This would be fine as an additional mode if there were a lot of options to consider or modify, but the only impactful factor here is in the map selection.  It seems like the game would benefit immensely from matchmaking as its default to join a game and there would be less downtime in trying to find and join a game, with a benefit of randomizing the map.  There are quite a few different maps, with some that require unique tactics.  All of these maps are available through Skirmish and Sandbox modes as well.

With that said, there are other issues with the way the Lobby system technically works.  People may forget to Ready up fast enough delaying the pace of getting into a game.  If someone disconnects, everyone is kicked back to the lobby without warning, and anyone can pause the game without notifying who is doing the pausing.  If one player quits after pausing, then all players get kicked to the lobby.  Even though there are no stats or any sort of meta game to worry about, people who don’t like losing would probably just quit before letting it play out and it spoils the experience for the other people playing.  Joining a lobby game is also hard because if you don’t connect you just get booted back to the server list with no explanation and you may still see the game you tried to join in the server list.  There also doesn’t seem to be a “random” map option, and the couple of times I tried adding an AI player they just didn’t do anything.  I played a couple of multiplayer matches with Unnamedhero, and while he hadn’t been through the single player mode at all, he began to pick up on a few of the mechanics pretty quickly after a couple of matches.  While the tactics and buildings are generally simple, when you are in an arms race against other players, the mastery of all of the mechanics will make for the ultimate challenge within the confines of this title.

The art and music are generally pleasing, and the sound effects are satisfying, especially when your enemy’s reactor explodes.  The single player mode has some very relevant political/war humor; very tongue-in-cheek.  For example, a reference to “Facts News” is an obvious play on “Fox News” and a biting commentary on the network itself.  Too bad Bill O’Reilly wasn’t a playable character.  Or would it be Phil O’Rightly?  I don’t know.  It probably would have been more fun to have more parodies of political/historical figures but instead we got generic commanders and other characters instead.

Forts is pretty recommendable to anyone who enjoys Worms/Angry Birds or are intrigued by a genre mash-up between the two.  I would not recommend the game to leg fetishists, though.  There are not a lot of legs in the game.  But, there are explosions.  Conciliatory prize to leg fetishists looking for a game?  I Report, You Decide.

 

Livelock (PC) Review

Developer: Tuque Games | Publisher: Perfect World International || Overall: 8.5

Google needs a new name. As our eventual AI overloads, the name Google doesn’t have the required menace for when the program finally decides to go rogue and that mankind can no longer be left to its own devices. It’s just a hard name to respect as our robot betters. Imagine being gunned down by the “Google Drones” or being forced to work for the “Google Internment Camp”. Wouldn’t you rather a name like “Ocelot Corp” or “Gigadyne” be the starting point for the age of machines and the fall of mankind? This is where Cyberdyne Systems had a good idea and stuck with it. They knew that if their program ever decided that mankind worked better as target practice, it had the proper name to take them down with. A name that could be feared and also respected; not a name that could qualify as a toddler’s first words.

terminator-52

To be fair, the T-800’s searched for Sarah Conner would have been optimized if it was powered by Google.

It’s a robot-on-robot war for the fate of humanity and you’re smack-dab in the middle of all its top-down shooter glory. Publisher Perfect World and Developer Tuque Games are set to bring the robotic apocalypse to your PC with Livelock. Livelock sends you on a mission to shoot your way through hordes of robots to save humanity. With its guns locked and loaded, it hopes to not shoot any blanks.

Livelock takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity is a distant memory and robots have taken their place as inheritors of earth. To that end, the world of Livelock is wonderfully realized. Most stages are barren wastelands where the remnants of humanity mix in with the discarded corpses of other robots that have fallen in the robot wars that followed mankind’s destruction. A fact that can be commonly seen in the way the art style treats the robots and the world they live on. The newer robots shine with a metallic brilliance while the rest of the world is diluted by dull hues to give a clear distinction on what’s old and new. To that effect, the weapon effects and explosions also light up the screen with a dazzling pop as the player violently weeds their way through their enemies. All this makes it clear to me that Livelock took some care when developing its art-style and graphics.

No joke here. I just really like the weapon effects.

No joke here. I just really like the weapon effects.

The story in Livelock continues to play with the duality of old and new. Mankind was given ten years before their eventual destruction, three human minds were downloaded into brand new robot bodies in the hopes of resurrecting humanity at a later time. Though the plan seems perfect, mankind fails to properly gauge the destruction and the time-table is set back by a few hundred years. Our three robot saviors are then resurrected by a satellite AI and are introduced to a world where three robot factions are fighting for dominance over the Earth. With the world in turmoil, the satellite AI informs them that the only way to save mankind is to stop the current war. This sends the player and the robots with human minds on a path of destruction for a chance to bring mankind back. It’s an intriguing narrative that blends the lines between robot and man to bring you a tale about perseverance and survival. Overall, it is a competent story with a satisfying ending even if it can be a tad predictable at times.

The gameplay can be best described in one word and, thankfully, that word is “fun.” At any moment there is a variety of things that can be happening on the screen and it’s the player’s job to properly balance out all the robotic bits. There may not always be a constant stream of enemies on the screen, but when Livelock decides to ramp up, it doesn’t really hold back the carnage. The player is almost constantly besieged by a variety of enemies both weak and powerful that require skillful uses of each robot’s three primary weapons and its varied abilities to survive. Furthermore, there are upgraded versions of every enemy that are beefier, stronger and, oftentimes, bigger than their normal version and require their own strategies to defeat.

The “variety of things” I talked about.

The “variety of things” I talked about.

The only real shame here is the fact that Tuque Games didn’t decide to diverge from the three most common classes when it came to the core robots. Putting it in MMO terms, the three robots fall into DPS, Tank and Support roles (or as I like to call them Shooty McShooterson, The Big Guy and The Red Cross). Though what they lacked in creativity, they make up for in execution as each gain an enjoyable number of weapons and skills to do away with the machine menace. Those skills can then be equipped, along with a variety of weapons, to build different setups for your robot. This means that there is a low chance that two robots would end up the same way, even if the same one is chosen.

And you’ll get plenty of chances to see those builds with the multiplayer. Overall, it’s pretty great. Any lag is hardly noticeable and the difficulty ramps up to a point where it is necessary to use your team to its full advantage. Thankfully, they also fixed the earlier connection issues and the multiplayer seems to run fine now.

Lastly, the variety of enemies is worth mentioning. Each robotic cluster has its own theme and the enemies you face play to them. Whether it is the hive-like structure of the Noesis cluster or the human-like appearances of the Praetorian cluster each robotic faction the player faces come with their own design and strategies. This not only keeps the player on their toes but also lends to the world building of the story. Each faction harbors its own desires and they play out throughout the course of the story to lend some life to the dead planet the story takes place on.

Livelock seems to have a bullet in every chamber. The story is competent, the gameplay is fun, the multiplayer works great and mixing and matching the different abilities and weapons is a treat. It’s also obvious that the developers took care and effort when developing the graphics and art-styles to fit the game’s setting. As of right now, Livelock’s chamber is full and locked and loaded for some fun.

When not implanting his human mind into a robot body as Unnamedhero, Eduardo Luquin can be reached at Unnamedheromk13@gmail.com.

*This review has been edited to reflect that multiplayer has been fixed upon launch.*

 

The Coffee Fires

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

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

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

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

Orson hung up the phone, and that was that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What are YOU doing with those explosives?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“NOOOOOO”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

“FREEDOOOOMMMM!!!”

 

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

 

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

 

Deep Sea Research: The Journal of Dr. Jerry Braduly

June 1, 1999

Today I went to Office Depot and bought a notebook.  It was a pretty good price, if I do say so myself.  A colleague of mine had suggested I get a college-ruled notebook this time, as the wide-ruled paper I had been getting over the years did not allow for sufficient explanation of scientific principles, and often I would take fifteen notebooks explaining one concept and I would get confused in the order or lose whole notebooks at any given time.  Somehow I don’t think the college-ruled notebook will help me act smarter but given that Dr. Sandra DeBaer also had suggested the good idea of using paper towels instead of my hand to clean things in my house, maybe this will work better too.

June 18, 1999

My research team, Braduly Research Team, has set up a lab and funding for our next experiment.  We have located ourselves to the outskirts of a marina in Long Beach, CA to prepare for excursions out into the ocean.  I have selected a team of brave volunteers to deep sea dive into the treacherous depths of Long Beach to accomplish our research goal.

June 19, 1999

Today I brought in three starfish to experiment on.  Part of the lofty goal we have chosen to explore will require us to test the electrical resistance of starfish and other sea-life we might encounter during our deep sea dive.  Documenting our tests before the first dive will prove to be useful as we will make sure to not be surprised about exploding sea animals.

June 24, 1999

It has been five days since we barbecued starfish.  We decided to eat the starfish but they didn’t sit very well with our stomachs and we have been feeling sick for the past five days.  We should have just stuck with the Brazilian restaurant down the street.  They might take forever to make their food but at least we won’t feel like more starfish are growing in our stomach.

June 30, 1999

The second stage of our pre-dive experiments has been successful.  We have acquired thermal shielding for our deep sea scuba gear and are retrofitting our underwater vehicles.  We must now plan for the contingency of releasing something we may not want to release.  We will be experimenting with the torpedo systems in case any unforeseen terrors arise from beneath the Earth’s crust.

July 4, 1999

Today is July 4th, Independence Day.  The beach has been overrun by patriots and their silly showings of nationalism.  Nationalism is bad for countries; don’t they know what they are doing to their own country?  We are all at base right now waiting for the escapades to end.  We watch the silly explosions of chemicals on television, adding to the already existing pollution in our air.  They celebrate the birth of a nation by killing the world it is on!  It is quite hilarious, really.

July 5, 1999

We have spent the better part of the day re-establishing our communications array that was knocked askew by a rogue firework.  I had to call AT&T to come out and look at it, and they said next time they come out they would have to charge us forty dollars because we have equipment attached to our communications systems that we didn’t purchased from them.  How does that even make sense?  Do they expect us to not use the communications systems that we pay for because we are using computers that aren’t made by them for a problem that isn’t even something that I had control over?  Who do they think they are?  Our dial-up modems download at five kilobytes a second — it might be fast but we can’t afford to waste any more time than is necessary.

I’ve been a paying customer for 3 years and pay 150 dollars for our phone lines each month.  The funding for this experiment will run dry if there are too many more delays.

July 23, 1999

I have just got back from our funding meeting with Hersher & Globula, a multinational candy-making company.  Those goobers think they can just cut off my funding with no explanation when I ask for more operatives to take over the marina.  Well I got news for them!  I am so close to the discovery of what lies beneath the Long Beach Seaquarium, that I will find volunteers to help me – FOR FREE.

July 26, 1999

I’ve posted bulletins up on telephone polls for operatives to help me discover what lies beneath the crust of the Earth.  The response has been surprisingly overwhelming and I now have over three hundred volunteers equipped with their own gear and weaponry to put my experiment into motion.  The Landrill has completed its final tests and is now ready to begin digging in the whale tank of the Long Beach Seaquarium.

August 12, 1999

It is the first day we have full control of the Long Beach Seaquarium.  After we threw out all the marina employees and released the animals into the ocean, we activated the Landrill to begin its long trek into the crust.  The 345 security operatives have full control of the marina at this very moment and we are keeping the administration of the marina locked in their offices.  They are allowed to resume their daily duties, as we require food to be imported.  We may get sick of eating fish that was meant for dolphins and whales, but I do not plan on waiting long for our goal to be accomplished.

August 14, 1999

There have been three incursions to our sanctity by the local law enforcement.  Two by land, one by sea.  All I will say is that it was a good thing we brought torpedoes.  Due to our preparation and strategic location, we have very limited casualties and work on the Landrill goes swimmingly (pun intended).

August 17, 1999

The police chief has agreed to send us daily regiments of pizza to feed my army in exchange for one prisoner.  I believe this is a fair trade off, considering this one prisoner is so ridiculously illogical and talks about how she believes in God.  Honestly, how can you be a scientist and still believe in that good-for-nothing loser?  He is a rapist and a terrorist, and he’s probably guilty of murder.

August 20, 1999

Our quest to find what lies beneath the Earth’s crust is nearly through!  We have finally almost hit the edge of the crust with the Landrill.  We must be careful now, as the chocolate that lies beneath the Earth’s crust must be cultivated and sold to candy makers at high prices!  This will be the biggest discovery mankind has known since I proved that clouds are made of cotton candy!

August 22, 1999

As I write this, I felt it was important to note what evil I have unleashed upon this Earth.  There are DEMON CHOCOLATE BUNNIES UNDERNEATH THE MARINA!  They have dismembered fifteen of my operatives and our bullets and electricity guns do not harm them.  They slowly advance out of the hole created by the Landrill.  We are in a pincer attack situation, with Demon Chocolate Bunnies coming from within our position and police advancing from the outside.  This situation is hopeless, but when the police discover what is happening, I will be who has the last laugh.

 

AHAHAHAHhhhAHAHHA

AHAHAHAHAH

AHAHAHAH

 

AHAHAHAHAHAH

 

AHAHAHAH

 

AHAHAHHAHAHA

AHAHAHAHAHAAh

 

Forever Repressed: The Last Action Torso

Stanley Steemer: What a dirty carpet. I better get to work.

(Stanley Steemer begins cleaning the carpet.)

(The Farting Mime farts on the carpet)

Stanley Steemer: Oh, come on! I was just done cleaning that!

(The Farting Mime plays the world’s smallest violin)

Stanley Steemer: You’ll never get away with this!

(The Farting Mime points to the Orkin Man, dead as a doornail underneath a parked Kia Spectra)

Stanley Steemer: You ran over the Orkin Man with a Kia Sephia? Man, that’s embarrassing.

Geo Tracker: Well, at least it took the attention away from me.

Stanley Steemer: Only one person can save the day!

(The Farting Mime shakes head in disagreement)

A Voice: I’m here to stop this!

Stanley Steemer: Could it be! It is! It’s Vin Diesel’s Chest!

Vin Diesel’s Chest: That’s right. Now what’s the problem?

(The Farting Mime Lets out a juicy one right on the Oriental rug)

Stanley Steemer: Help us, Vin Diesel’s Chest! He’s farting on the rug that I just cleaned.

Vin Diesel’s Chest: Well, I’ll just have to put a stop to this using my impeccable pecs.

(The Farting Mime Pretends to be trapped in a box)

Vin Diesel’s Chest: Shoot. He’s in a box. How am I going to get to him now?

Geo Tracker: Smoke him out.

Tommy Chong: I’m way ahead of you, man.

(Invisible box fills up with smoke, The Farting Mime busts out of the box.)

Vin Diesel’s Chest: It worked. Now come and get me, you mute freak.

(The Farting Mime Farts right into Vin Diesel’s Chest)

Vin Diesel’s Chest: Do you think that’s going to work? I don’t have a nose.

Tommy Chong: Wow, weird man. He’s like, got no face.

(The Farting Mime Makes a gasping face, then runs away.)

Geo Tracker: I’ll take it from here.

(Geo Tracker Opens driver’s side door)

(The Farting Mime gets in, tries to start the car, but the car explodes.)

Vin Diesel’s Chest: Well, shoot. If I was closer to the explosion, I would jump out of the way just so the camera could get a slo-mo of my massive chest muscles.

Stanley Steemer: You saved the day! But why did the car explode?

Unabomber: I think it was a terrorist.

(Vin Diesel’s Chest floats away heroically, girls faint in their seats.)

 

Applications In Space

The sweat dripped off my fingers and into the cracks. “Not again,” I thought. I could hear my heart thumping with a quickening pace. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Was it really a prompt? It sure didn’t prompt me to do anything but want to leave. The floor creaked. “Who’s there?” I yelled, but I don’t wait for an answer. I knew who was there. I quickly drew out my blaster and blew the door to hell. “That would do it,” I told myself as I slowly turned back to the screen, but I knew there was nothing I could do. There was no time, so I did to the screen what I do to anything else that I don’t have time for: I put my fist in it. The glass shards ripped through my hand like razorblades. For some reason I thought it was made of plastic. It didn’t matter much; you only need one finger to pull a trigger. I stood up and kicked over my desk, just for effect.

“Oh my gosh! What happened to your hand?” she asked, stepping over the trilorg carcass. “College essays,” I said, nodding to the overturned desk. Of course she wanted to look at my hand. She always acted like she was a doctor. “Well that glass has gotta go,” Glenn said, rubbing her chin. I smiled and told her to warn the others about the trilorgs. Murderous eight foot tall creatures that feast on brains were not something easily forgotten. These college applications were a curse, they swelled my brain. I thought my head must have looked like a big supple ham to them. I looked up, something was moving around on the floor above us. She heard it too. “Isn’t that the bridge above us?” she asked. She was right, they were probably flying us right to some trilorg slaughterhouse. “We’re wasting time, just go!” I yell. I wasn’t this nervous since last Thursday… the last time this happened. The circumstances were different. This carnage was supplemental. She ran out the rear airlock and I heard a muffled scream, then the sound of a bone saw. They were hungrier than I thought. That didn’t give me much time; they were probably planning to eat us all now, on our own ship. I jumped out the airlock and pumped three ounces of plasma into the trilorg. Glenn’s brain was exposed… that just did it. I kicked the trilorg’s remaining teeth in and headed towards the bridge.

I was blasting trilorgs left and right. You could hear the burning plasma rip into their bodies and come out the other side. My gun soon overloaded and died, that was inevitable. I kicked a few in the jaw as I made my way over to the main control panel to do what I had come there to do. I smashed down the ship’s self destruct button, that seemed to have the word “SUBMIT” on it, with my bloody fist and muttered, “See you all in hell.”

The ship groaned and shook, but no explosion came. I cursed under my breath. I must have forgotten some field… I searched the panel for a red asterix, but I ended up finding a few on my chest from the trilorgs’ blasters. One of them said something like, “Don’t move, human.” I could hear the whir of a bone saw behind me. Another one moved past me and tapped some commands into the panel. They were locking all the airlocks on the ship. “That’ll stop these pesky interruptions,” the trilorg said. Just then it clicked: all of the trilorgs had to be right here with me on the bridge. I slid my hand down to my belt. A trilorg shot my arm off. Through the immense pain I could hear them laughing and fighting over the fresh meat. With the diversion going, I whipped my other hand to my belt and unloaded three high explosive plasma grenades and smiled. “Eat up.” I said, tossing one in each mouth.

I woke up with a start, dried saliva on the corner of my mouth, my computer screen intact. “Crap,” I thought. The prompt is still there blinking incessantly. Nothing done, again.

 

GODZILLA Rampage in Ida, Michigan

Oh no! Godzilla is on a rampage in downtown Ida, Michigan! There is no way to stop him! “Well, actually,” said the really smart scientist guy, “there is a way to stop him.” “Really? Hmmm…no, I don’t believe it,” said the big mean general guy, “I say you are a dumb scientist who doesn’t know anything. I think we should blow him out into orbit with my new nukes I got!”

“NO!! You’ll KILL US ALL!!”

“Shut up, you crazy scientist whose plans never involve using my new nukes I got two weeks ago,” said the general. Then he put two fingers in the scientists face and said, “Two!…..do you see? Thats two weeks! Thats a lot of days! Do you realize that I could have had breakfast fourteen times in that span of time?? ….Actually, I did…that just shows you how long that is!”

“Alright, alright,” said the scientist, “you can use your nukes but as soon as they don’t work, I get to do my plan.”

“Yeah, we’ll see….”

They both jump into the general’s suped up “Hummer” and peel out of the trailer park. Suddenly the general stops the car. “That’s far enough, scientist boy. I didn’t buy this hummer so I could chouffer dumb scientists around. I’ll come back if my plan fails. …maybe,” said the general as he pushed the scientist out of the car.

The general (whose name was Bob) sped down Main Street really fast. He was probably going really fast, but he didn’t know for sure because his speedometer was broken. He knew he had to kill Godzilla before Godzilla destoryed the world…or at least downtown Ida. Bob smiled to himself. He didn’t really have any nuclear weapons. He was suprised he fooled the scientist (whose name was Albert).

“I thought scientists were supposed to be smart!” said Bob, “Or at least the smart ones should be…” This puzzled Bob. Why had the scientist smiled? Did he smile? Maybe the scientist had just pretended to smile, just to fool Bob. “Yeah, that sounds about right,” said Bob, as he pulled over next to Godzilla.

Meanwhile, back at the trailer park…

It sure was a long walk to Godzilla, but Albert knew a shortcut….no, he actually didn’t, he just likes to have a positive attitude. He had walked one mile already, and he was only halfway there. he could be there in half an hour, if he walked slow.

Half an hour was exactly how long Bob needed to fill his car’s gas tank with nitro glycerin. He would then offer Godzilla his car, and as soon as Godzilla turned the key…BOOM!! …Or he would just make Godzilla step on the car. The general smiled at himself and thought, “What am I smiling about? Maybe I’m just a happy person.” Just then the general finished filling his car with nitro glycerin. Now all he had to do was make Godzilla step on it.

Just then Albert came over. “I guess I made it just in time, right Bob?” said Albert. “Don’t call me Bob,” said Bob.

“We have to stop Godzilla before he destroys the world!”

“I know that! Now get on top of my car and use this megaphone to talk to Godzilla.”

“Talk?? But…what? What should I say?”

“Talk scientist babble.”

“Umm…okay…ahem,” said Albert into the megaphone.

Godzilla looked over at them.

“Yes, well…,” said Albert, “Um….did you know that the gravitational pull-”

Albert was cut off by the giant explosion that occured when Godzilla jumped on top of the scientist and blew up the car. Bob was kind of smart. He knew that any giant monster hates scientists that want to kill them. They especially hate it when the scientists talk.

Bob, Albert, and Godzilla were all killed in the blast. (or at least Godzilla was, the other two were probably killed when Godzilla jumped on them)

The End

 

26 Fun Things to Do in an Elevator

1) When there’s only one other person in the elevator, tap them on the shoulder and then pretend it wasn’t you.

2) Push the buttons and pretend they give you a shock. Smile, and go back for more.

3) Ask if you can push the button for other people, but push the wrong ones.

4) Call the Psychic Hotline from your cell phone and ask if they know what floor you’re on.

5) Hold the doors open and say you’re waiting for your friend. After awhile, let the doors close and say, “Hi Greg. How’s your day been?”

6) Drop a pen and wait until someone reaches to help pick it up, then scream, “That’s mine!”

7) Bring a camera and take pictures of everyone in the elevator.

8 ) Move your desk in to the elevator and whenever someone gets on, ask if they have an appointment.

9) Lay down a Twister mat and ask people if they’d like to play.

10) Leave a box in the corner, and when someone gets on ask them if they hear something ticking.

11) Pretend you are a flight attendant and review emergency procedures and exits with the passengers.

12) Ask, “Did you feel that?”

13) Stand really close to someone, sniffing them occasionally.

14) When the doors close, announce to the others, “It’s okay. Don’t panic, they open up again.”

15) Swat at flies that don’t exist.

16) Tell people that you can see their aura.

17) Call out, “group hug!”, then enforce it.

18) Grimace painfully while smacking your forehead and muttering, “Shut up, all of you, just shut up!”

19) Crack open your briefcase or purse, and while peering inside, ask, Got enough air in there?”

20) Stand silently and motionless in the corner, facing the wall, without getting off.

21) Stare at another passenger for a while, then announce in horror, “You’re one of THEM!” and back away slowly.

22) Wear a puppet on your hand and use it to talk to the other passengers.

23) Listen to the elevator walls with your stethoscope.

24) Make explosion noises when anyone presses a button.

25) Stare, grinning at another passenger for a while, and then announce, “I have new socks on.”

26) Draw a little square on the floor with chalk and announce to the other passengers, “This is my personal space!”