Deiland (PC) Review

Developer: Chibig | Publisher: 101XP || Overall: 9.0/10

Deiland is a fantastic game.  Think 3D Harvest Moon in space, or a more timely analogy, Stardew Valley in space.  Though, not as complex or farm-focused as these titles, Deiland takes a more streamlined and narrative approach to the farming sandbox genre.  An extremely charming and interesting game unfolds as you perform your typical farming/crafting tasks.

The basics of the game are pretty easy to grasp.  You have three plots of land to plant food.  You plant trees to cut them down and gather wood.  You hit rocks and get stones.  You use these resources to build.  Where it gets interesting is that there is actually not that much to worry about when it comes to how to build your farm, or what things to plant, or where to put things.  You can certainly pay attention to those things, but the way the game treats them is much more in the guise of “accomplish these quests/tasks” rather than the “customize it and make it look good” thing that most titles in this genre emphasize.

There is a greater sense of purpose in doing the “normal sandbox tasks” that you see yourself doing.  You’ll meet around ten different visitors/friends to do quests for, making you figure out how to use the tools you have been given in pursuit of completing them.  Nearly every quest teaches you a new item to craft, and as you gather more materials, you’ll learn more about the visitors themselves.  Since they actually “visit” your planet at random times, they can also overlap, which allows them to interact with one another; this gives the little planet of Deiland a much more communal feel to it.  You’ll also visit a couple of different locations off the planet, such as another planet called Ankora, so it gives the game a bigger feeling; though you’ll feel homesick for the quaint life of farming carrots in short order.

By far the most unique aspect is the planet of Deiland itself.  Your entire planet is your “farm.”  The planet is also very small and you can run around it in less than a minute.  You have all of your normal sandbox features, such as a mine, plots of land to plant food in, and a lake to fish in.  There’s plenty of empty space to plant as many trees/bushes as you like.  Your house is upgraded to include more types of items to craft, along with upgrading your tools.  All of the upgrading and new crafting items occur through the story, so as you progress through quests, your planet will develop further.  Meteorites will hit the planet as well, creating a mini-game where you have to rotate your planet so that the meteorites don’t hit anything valuable, or they will get destroyed.  When it rains you can also rotate your planet or the clouds themselves over your plants to make them produce faster.

A much appreciated quality of life inclusion is contextual actions.  For example, if you go over to a tree, you will immediately use your axe to cut it; same with stones, you will immediately use your hammer to hit them.  There is much less fumbling around with selecting tools than in Stardew Valley, and for this reason alone I generally enjoy playing Deiland more, which is a pretty big compliment.  Why this wasn’t an obvious design choice in other games, I can’t answer, but I really do like it.

While most of the quests can be completed by creating something on your farm, you can also buy your way through many of the quests by trading with the different visitors.  Each visitor will buy particular things at a higher price, so it is good to wait to sell certain things until you visit a particular character.  The characters themselves are all interesting in their own way, and about half of them don’t actually have models — they are just character art hiding inside of their spaceship or a building.  This isn’t a big deal for me, but it would have been nice to see all of them have their own models and give more personality to the characters you befriend.

The mystery of the player’s character, Arco, is slowly unfurled as you progress through the storyline.  You find several pages of the Prince’s “story” which alludes to the main villain. The story is a bit dark, with an unknown entity communicating to Arco through his dreams, saying creepy things.  You also learn about previous “Princes” and the fact that your best friend, Mun, may have ulterior motives.  It took about 10 hours for me to complete the main story, but unfortunately the ending is a bit sudden and you don’t expect it to be the end.  Supposedly, there is free DLC planned for December, which gives at least some hope that the story is planned on being concluded in a satisfying way.

As far as the bad things about the game, there isn’t too many, but there is some obviously underdeveloped aspects.  It would have been nice to have a couple more buildings to build on your planet.  After upgrading your house and building the barn there isn’t very much to invest your most common resources, Wood and Stone, into.  The fighting system is also pretty barebones, as your character basically only has one attack animation.  Having to kill enemies feels more like a chore than something fun.  Additionally, a few substantial ability unlocks occur at the end of the game, at which point you’re pretty much done playing, so new magic spells, for instance, have very low use.  For some reason you’re also not allowed to even use magic in the “boss stage” which doesn’t make much sense.  If you aren’t going to use it then, when would you want to use it?  Not that this is required, but there isn’t any sort of “endless dungeon” or meaningful combat progression system, so there’s not as much emphasis on the combat aspects despite being something you have to do a lot.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the game’s story conclude with whatever free DLC is being planned.  While I’m not a fan of releasing unfinished games, Deiland is far from being unfinished — there’s plenty to do and I had a lot of fun for the time I put into it.  It would have been nice to at least know that something more was coming immediately rather than having to research online about it.

Deiland is can be purchased on Steam.

 

Trailmakers (PC) Early Access Preview

Developer/Publisher: Flashbulb || Outlook: Seems Promising

My generation, like a couple of other generations, had access to physical toys, such as building blocks or “LEGOS.”  You could build spaceships, castles, cars …or at least something that could pass for them.  In many ways we see that “idea” of creation in many of the most popular games today, but getting back to the basics of “creating a car” with building blocks is what Trailmakers attempts to do.

Now this particular concept isn’t new to gaming, but since I’ve never played Banjo Kazooie: Nuts & Bolts, it’s new to me.  I’ve seen videos and heard awful things about that game.  So, to me, Trailmakers, seems like someone had a part in developing that game, thought they could do a better job in retrospect, and from that comes this Early Access title.  Flashbulb, the developer, is apparently made up of Rare and IO Interactive veterans, so the scenario is entirely plausible.  Obviously at this point, the game doesn’t feel anywhere near complete, but there is plenty of foundation built into it, and is seemingly waiting for the content to make it “fun.”  There have already been a couple of updates that add different modes, so the focus of the game has already changed since I initially began playing.

In Expedition Mode, your character arrives to this “racing planet” full of hazards, ramps, and lots of annoying shit to collect along the way.  The more things you collect, the more things you unlock to customize your vehicle.  You can save as many versions of your creations as you like, modify an existing blueprint, import blueprints, or start from scratch just to get through one hazard.  Once you have more pieces unlocked, your creations will obviously get more complex, with engines, wheels, different size blocks, doohickeys, gizmos, dildos, and an assortment of other random things I don’t know how to use correctly.  This might be fun for some people, but unfortunately if you’re impatient and don’t really find the enjoyment in tinkering around using a mouse/keyboard (or a controller) to build vehicles, it becomes a tedious task.  The builder itself is about as good as it can be, but since you are building in a 3D space, it can get annoying to see where things are being placed without moving your camera multiple times for each piece.  It just isn’t the same as holding blocks in your hand and putting things where you want them to go.

The driving isn’t necessarily that much fun, and the map is full of forks and different paths that lead to the same end point.  There’s also a lot of empty space, but considering you’re meant to drive around, its probably not that big of a deal.  Outside of collecting shit, there’s not a whole lot “to do” other than get past hazards and get to the next zone to collect more things.  More plainly, the gameplay loop is lacking severely; there’s just basically no reason to play unless you really enjoy making new things in the builder.

The driving controls are floaty as hell, but I’m unsure if this is part of the design or not.  The point of collecting better upgrades and designing a vehicle that works well aerodynamically and with the types of engines you are using seems to be part of the challenge, but it isn’t structured very well.  There are no early-on upgrades that can improve your controls very much, and its a constant struggle considering they intentionally make them worse if you aren’t designing your vehicle correctly according to the in-game physics.  Another annoying aspect is that the camera isn’t able to be controlled while driving, at least with a controller.

I think the fact that it is an open world with no other “racers” to race against is a large part of what makes the game feel boring outside of building.  There isn’t any motivation to continue dealing with the crappiness of the controls or tediousness of having to build something to just get through one hazard. Redesigning everything from scratch over and over becomes an exercise in “doing the bare minimum” to get past whatever is stopping you.  You might be able to stumble through hazards with your same vehicle, but you’ll be dying over and over.  There’s a lot of things that will clip your vehicle or make you blow up, so you’ll constantly be respawning at the last checkpoint over and over.

The Race Island mode, which was recently added, allows you to more fully tinker around with the game’s systems as everything will be already unlocked.  You’ll only be doing “time trials” as there are still no other racers to race against, but it is more satisfying to be able to mess around with a large array of items from the beginning — it doesn’t feel like you’re “missing” anything.  However, without proper tutorials you’re going to be building some really wacky things that don’t work the way you think they should, and all of a sudden you have a helicopter that flies upside down and goes directly up.

Trailmakers will probably appeal to a certain set of gamer that really enjoys fiddling around with mechanical engineering concepts.  Seeing what works and what doesn’t work in a real physics-driven world is pretty cool considering the amount of freedom you’re allowed to build things.  I would have really appreciated some sort of generic base blueprint archive of some sort so that I could just click it and go with a new vehicle once I had everything unlocked and then modify it as I saw fit.  As of now, there’s plenty more that needs to be added to the game to make it more appealing to someone like me, but with the existing foundation already included, it seems promising that a worthwhile game could be made out of this.

 

WoW Chat #25685

Note: “DBM” is a popular add-on in the game that most people have and most people know about.  It helps with raids and has other quality of life options for the game in general.

Cloned: Thanks blizz, for forcing me to watch a cutscene ive seen 8 times,  and not letting me ESC out, and missingi my 40 min queue pop. Fuck you Xera

davepoobond: someone doesnt have DBM…

Cloned: whats that

Myuuse: lol

Stormclaw: …

Cailirath: delete now bro

Myuuse: Did you just join WoW?

Cailirath: I think the real question is why is a dk not tank queing instead of wasting a plate class

Phatgrillz: yo why are sky golems so expensive now?

Cloned: oh sorry, im not some mega nerd. that modified my WoW Ui, to look like some spaceship taking off

Cailirath: idk lol the mats are still cheap as ever

davepoobond: “mega nerd”

davepoobond: you’re just a dumby instead.  guess thats worse

Cailirath: want some ointment for that burn?

Cloned: oh sorry, i dont make my WoW gtaming experience, like im working for NASA.. sorry im one of those normal ppl that understand this is just a game

davepoobond: literally no one has the issue you are having because we are smart enough to have a required add-on

Myuuse: DBM is a simple mod that fixes dumb shit and assists during dungeon and raid fights

Myuuse: it doesn’t overhaul the UI or anything like that

davepoobond: it has nothing to do with making the game look like a spaceship

davepoobond: what a weird analogy

Myuuse: Don’t talk shit when you very clearly don’t know what you’re talking about

 

Myuuse: You’re just making yourself seem like even more of an idiot than your initial comment made you seem

Cloned: oH sorry, i dont bust out graphing calculators, and spreadsheets to determine how much damage i can potentially do

davepoobond: no one does that bro

(In Guild Chat) Dusk: he starts every sentence with OH SORRY

Cailirath: normal people have dbm

Stormclaw: It’s a good thing he isn’t in a spaceship or there’d be another challenger incident

Myuuse: DBM’s purpose is to make sure you don’t stand in fire

davepoobond: OH SORRY I DONT USE LIGHT TO SEE THINGS IN FRONT OF ME

Cailirath: Im guessing he does

Myuuse: He absolutely does

Cailirath: hes probably that dps standing there blowing cds on trash pulls

davepoobond: I ALSO DONT USE UNCLASPED BRAS OR BOTTLES OF WINES

Cloned: oh sorry i dont modify my WoW UI like some sociopath, so that it looks like a spaceship taking off… u know to some people, this is just a game

Cloned: sorry i dont bust out graphing calculators and spreadsheets to determine my DPS acceleration

Mightydwarf: How to spot a shitter

Cloned: yeah im shit, because i play WoW for fun… not like some mega nerd, that thinks WoW is like working at NASA, when they install 10 million addons

davepoobond: you are an anti-science cretin.  what is wrong with NASA

Cloned: there is a reason there is a stigma against WoW players, and its from sociopaths like him  that Call everyone shit, if they didnt modify their UI to determine complex equations about DPS

Cloned: and then he tells the casual players to Delete and walk away from the computer…. THe irony is that he needs that more than anyone

Kynsae: No, im pretty sure the stigma is that people will choose raids over real life, play all the time, and generally talk nerdy

Whicket: yo whats an addo

Cloned: its something, that you install when you lack skill

Whicket: so the fact that i install an addon to mash my bags together or see my dps means i lack skill?

Whicket: well fuck me silly im uninstalling

Tormentous: once you uninstall them your skill will increase like crazy

davepoobond: why do you hate NASA

 

Morphite (PC) Review

Developer: We’re Five Games/Blowfish Studios/Crescent Moon Games | Publisher: Crescent Moon Games || Overall: 8/10

Morphite is more than a game.  It’s about finding your purpose in life.  What is the meaning of your existence?  What is the point of anything?  Moreover, what is the point of Morphite‘s procedurally generated universe full of random planets?  I don’t know.

In a nutshell, Morphite is like a less ambitious version of No Man’s Sky.  You have plenty to “do” but there’s not really any motivation or purpose in doing “it.”  Outside of a single player story that has you finding out about the main character’s past and how it relates to the mysterious element morphite, there isn’t much impetus to “explore.”  You’ll want to find resources to upgrade your armor and ship, but the resources aren’t plentiful enough on planets to want to go grind for them.

Morphite has a full universe to explore with procedural planets, which is appealing to hear on its surface.  However, it would be hard to qualify these as actual “planets” considering their size and access, and its best to refer to them as “levels” instead.  In addition, the procedural planets aren’t anywhere near interesting or rewarding enough to warrant the effort of repeatedly visiting new ones.  I only ever wanted to run in one direction, hit a dead end, then leave.  The fauna is quite interesting and I hadn’t run over too many duplicates of creature models as I progressed through the storyline and visited a few of the random planets.

The story itself has hand-designed planets and boss battles, and they are usually way more fun to play on than the procedural levels.  The story takes about ten hours to complete, and there isn’t a point where the game says “ok, now explore” until you finish the story; outside of the random side missions you might come across until then, there honestly isn’t any point to exploration.  On the bright side, if you did want to explore every planet in the game, it will take you 5.9 x 103932349029302909530490394 hours, give or take a few exponents.  When you complete the game you’ll gain a significant buff to your ship’s capabilities, so if you are interested in experiencing more of the random levels, its probably better to wait until then.  Though, I haven’t seen much of a difference in levels the further you fly away from your origin point where all the story takes place.  So, your mileage will definitely vary, as once the story is over there’s nothing left to do but to visit these randomized levels.  On a more meta level, the long-term goal is to increase your character’s power by upgrading.  You are able to unlock new abilities by scanning plants and animals that pop up as rare, and have a special ability; using this scan in tandem with your other resources unlocks your potential.  With more upgrades, more planets become available for exploration, where you’ll continue scanning more and more.

Gameplay is your run of the mill first person shooter with different guns and explosives.  As you find more of the “elusive” morphite, you’ll get more weapons, as they morph into your new equipment.  Platforming and light puzzles will be the main activity other than shooting, but nothing usually on the scale of frustrating; some of the later story missions have interesting puzzle design.  You’ll occasionally run across items that will buff your character in small ways, such as a bracelet that gives you more health.  Ammo randomly spawns in boxes and you’ll probably be hurting for ammo at the beginning of the game when you only have a couple of weapons to use.  Later on there will be a lot more boxes to shoot open and more weapons to use, so this problem goes away eventually.  You can restock a moderate amount of ammo at the pod you used to land on the planet, but you’re usually going to be far away from the pod by the time you need it.  When you run out of ammo completely, your weapons will recharge up to a certain point, but anything over that number will require extra ammo drops.  Considering your ammo doesn’t recharge very quickly, this hinders your gameplay experience in the shooter department as you’ll have to run away a lot as there are no permanent melee weapons.  Relying on Puggles, who is a dog with a laser cannon on his back, to do most of your dirty work is the best way to conserve ammo.

Collecting resources to upgrade your stuff can be a grind, but the resources are so scarce its forced to become an afterthought usually.  Its also hard to monitor how much you have if you have the opportunity to buy more resources or the time to upgrade comes around.  No numbers fly up telling you what you’re currently at — you’ll have to menu hunt to see your current stock.  There’s also some story encounters while traveling from system to system where you’ll either get lucky or unlucky.  You may fly into an asteroid field where you actually get to control your ship for a bit, or lose resources due to pirates, or run across a trader from whom you can spend “Chunks” at to buy resources.  Chunks are the currency in this universe, and the primary way of earning Chunks is through selling “Common Scans” of plants and animals, whereas “Rare Scans” are used to upgrade yourself (or you can sell for a much higher price).  Unfortunately, scanning is pretty fucking awful until you upgrade it a bunch of times, and even then its sad that this is the only way to really make money in this game.  Resources are not found nearly as often to want to ever sell them, and the amount of Chunks you get from ammo boxes and the like is usually very low.

When traveling from system to system, you’ll also have to wait for your fuel to recharge.  This forces you to go space stations (which are available in every system) to refuel, or you can waste time and wait for it to refill automatically. You can use this time to explore a random planet, or do your laundry.  It’s your choice what you think is more productive.  The side missions I came across were also not appealing to try and complete as the rewards they offered were usually not that exciting.  I only ran across one side mission that I could complete then and there; most seem to want to send you out into another part of the universe to complete and I’m not about that life.

The standouts here are the art style and the music.  The art is actually quite fun and reminds me of old 3D DOS games, but obviously this title is much more detailed in certain aspects than that.  Low Poly definitely has its benefit when it comes to space as detail can often be left to the imagination.  The ambient music also fits the space theme accordingly and I was really digging everything I was listening to, which seemed to be at least ten different tracks.  The variety of music is done well and each song sounded was good in its own right, I would probably listen to this soundtrack on its own.  There was also weird sound mixing with the voice overs, sometimes the music would overtake the voice over and you could only understand what they were saying by reading the subtitles.

User interface is another story, however.  The space navigation screens, typography, and the menus all seemed like afterthoughts.  The spaceship cockpit distracted me in a way that felt as if it looked unfinished and they forgot to put some more polish into making it look good.  It’s quite odd, because you arguably spend the most time seeing your spaceship and the menus, but everything else about the game looks great.  Besides that, the usability of the user interface is much more clunky than I’d like and its a pain to use a controller to navigate it.  Considering this title is meant to be released on a phone, you can see some of the design decisions were not built for a controller, and too spread out for mouse/keyboard.  Its also a huge pain to switch weapons — how you can screw this up in a first person shooter is beyond me, but there’s no easy and quick way to switch to your weapons with a controller, and you are relegated to another menu hunt to switch logically.  This becomes increasingly exacerbated as there will be puzzles that require you to switch between three different weapons over and over.  Keyboard/Mouse isn’t much better and you’ll have to remember which weapon is assigned to the numbers on the keyboard.  You can also use the scroll wheel to go one by one, or menu hunt then click “equip” once you find what you want — there are N64 games that are easier to switch weapons in.

Admittedly, it’s hard to get too excited about Morphite, but it is fun while your interest holds.  The story isn’t too long and I don’t think it overstays its welcome.  The ending is anticlimactic and the boss battles tend to be a bit on the easy side.  The mystery of the story is good while it lasts, and it never takes itself too seriously, not to mention it takes a dark turn towards the end that I wouldn’t have guessed would be part of the story.  Coming into Morphite thinking you’re going to be playing an indie sci-fi shooter is a better way to go about it than thinking its anything related to No Man’s Sky.

 

Defect: Spaceship Destruction Kit (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: Three Phase Interactive || Overall: 6.0

Occasionally a game comes along that reminds me of something that I used to do as a kid.  I was very much into building my own custom LEGO spaceships or random things and having them fly around and shoot at each other, making up a story in my head about all of the cool shit that was “actually” happening.  Indeed, I was just waving plastic around in the air and making noises, but it was fun to me, dammit!  Defect: Spaceship Destruction Kit harks back to my earlier days, giving you a litany of neat spaceship parts to assemble and construct, then take it out for a spin through the universe.

The concept is great.  The shipbuilding is fun.  The game design is okay.  The controls, though… holy shit are they frustrating.  When you get out of the shipbuilding menu and into an actual mission, you’re going to be fighting against the user interface as much as you do enemies.  The game controls exactly as you would expect an Asteroids-floaty-space-combat game to be, and that’s not an especially great thing.  Because there are some micromanaging aspects in the arcade gameplay, it is hard to be able to control your ship during intense action as well as make use of the “Direct Control” options.

Your crew will automatically use weapons, but they don’t hit your target very often.  When you put weapons under “Direct Control” your weapons are a lot more effective, but it becomes painfully obvious that it’s a lot harder to kill anything than it should be, especially at the beginning of the campaign.  Your projectiles usually don’t have a very long range, or are slow-moving and dissipate before they hit the moving target (these are alleviated as you progress).  It would be a lot more satisfying if anywhere near half of the shots you are shooting hit something, but in my experience it was more like 25% unless I was right on their ass.  Considering your ships start with awful engines and awful maneuverability, that wasn’t very often.  You can also use Direct Control to buff another piece of your ship and also to repair them as they take damage.  There are plenty of weapons that will one-shot you, so you’ll have to be careful.  A major impact on your performance is how well you execute building a ship that is able to move fast, have enough weaponry, and have enough armor to accomplish the task at hand.  Not an easy feat, typically.

After the first couple of missions, I hit a wall in the difficulty level, mostly because of the controls.  It became frustrating for me to constantly fail despite designing all sorts of ships and doing all sorts of tactics.  Another grating thing on my patience was that the whole level had to load again for each retry, after booting you to the mission select screen.  Considering the game starts you out quite under-powered, your enemies seem to be a lot harder than they should be, and the missions don’t seem to ramp up in difficulty in a consistent manner.  I started out on “Normal” difficulty and once I hit the wall, I knocked it down to “Easy.”  Unfortunately, there was no tangible difference between Normal and Easy that I could see.  After getting through the first few missions, about six different ones become available for play and go into different branching paths for a total of 50 missions.  The mission variety is not too bad, but tend to boil down to “kill the enemies,” and rightfully so.  You are able to replay older missions so you can unlock more parts, but at the same time you don’t want to be stuck in a grind instead of doing new missions — especially since new missions grant you the most new parts.  Not to mention, doing an old mission isn’t an assured win by any means.  To top it all off the camera constantly zooms in and out; this removes you from the action and being left with not knowing who or what is being shot at.  Getting disoriented from the seemingly-random zooms is another obstacle in and of itself.

After defeating a mission, your ship will always be stolen away from you by mutineers.  At the end of the next mission, you’ll fight that ship in a duel.  This is a sort of clever progression mechanic as it forces you to at least have to build a “better” ship than your last and you can’t always rely on your older designs as they use lesser equipment.  The double meaning of “Defect” becomes quite amusing as you have to fix the defects (flaws) in your ships, and your ship ends up being your enemy when your crew stages a defection by mutiny.  As an Easter Egg of sorts, a fun homage to David Bowie is one of the mutineer character designs.

Since the game forces you to constantly design new ships after they are stolen, it is a great way to put focus back on the ship building.  Even though your ship designs are saved, you’ll typically unlock something new after each completed mission, so you’ll want to mess around with the new things you got or try to make something completely different.  Missions usually demand a unique ship configuration, anyhow.

There is a great variety in ship building even from the start.  Your main limiter in building is Power Level, which is dictated by the Power Core you have.  You earn better Cores as you complete missions, and as you have more Power, you are able to have more Crew.  Most pieces require Power Level+Crew, but since Power converts into crew, you’ll eventually hit a point where you can’t add anything more to your ship due to your initial Power Level.  As you equip stronger propulsion engines you’ll need to balance them out with Stability, which forces you to mess around with different combinations of wings and rockets.

Defect also looks great; the enemy spaceships are unique and quite inspired in their designs.  While many pieces of ships are obviously influenced by popular media, the combination of them all together make for some interesting sights.  As you progress and acquire larger Power Cores, you’ll be able to build larger ships.  The graphics in general are pretty good and the sound effects aren’t annoying either.  The ship building user interface is also pretty simple to understand and nothing hinders that experience.  You are allowed to save up to 499 designs and share them with friends, which is also cool.  Using a controller during missions is an option, but most of the game requires a mouse/keyboard, so there isn’t much impetus to use one.

Despite all of the good things I have to say about the game, justifying giving it a low score really comes down to me not being able to derive much enjoyment from the actual usage of the ships I was making.  The controls aren’t intuitive, which leads to the levels being too difficult which leads to the game simply becoming a frustrating experience.  I can’t in good conscience recommend this game to anyone unless you’re great with floaty-space arcade games.  It may be entirely possible that none of the defects (pun!) of the game make no impact on your enjoyment, as it is essentially Asteroids on steroids with ship-building.  And much like no longer playing with LEGO spaceships in the air pretending they shoot lasers, I’ve given up on what could have been.

 

Max the Lovelorn Bear

There once was a bear named Max.  He was a hopeless romantic who spent his days smelling flowers and eating bark off of trees for the cleanliness of his teeth.  He would always try to find the perfect flower to give to one of his many potential mates.

Natasha the Big Brown Bear was the skankiest bear in all of The NeighborWood, also known as “The Wood.”  She would climb trees and then eat the acorns out of their shells and then spit them at other bears.  She was so annoying.  This one time she spat an acorn shell on the mayor of The Wood, Mayor Hunstingson.  She was kicked out of the city for three days and had to direct traffic from the neighboring city ForesTown to and fro.  Traffic duty is pretty much the worst duty you could do in The Wood since everyone is an idiot and doesn’t know how to drive their cars.

Max found a Red Mistberry Flower growing in a ravine north of the NeighborWood Nuclear Factory.  He thought it smelled so good that he picked it and decided to give it to Natasha as a gesture of affection.  He thought since Natasha would be all alone on the Bearway Pass between NeighborWood and ForesTown, he could make his move.

It was an unfortunate misplacing of romantic intentions for Max.  Natasha had the IQ of a baboon, and the brain of one, too.  That’s why she’s so stupid.  Because she isn’t a bear, she is a baboon in the body of a bear.  Too bad for Max because she had a booty like DANGGGG!!!!!  Natasha ate his Red Mistberry Flower and spat the seeds at him when he presented it to her.

All spat on, heartbroken, and no one to love, Max went back to his den made out of bricks.  It was a nice den, but watch out if he wanted to fart because IT’S MADE OF BRICKS!!!!!  You may not get it, but sure.

The next week, Max found a flower called the Junior Talap Wishmaker.  It was the perfect type of flower to give to Allison the Green Bear.  Why was she green?  Because she is soooooo cool.  That’s why!  She’s like one of those chicks you see on BizarroBook who is friends with someone you know but sticks out like a sore thumb in their friends list.  So, Allison the Green Bear was at the local record store Bear-cords, smelling the guitar tablature books.  She liked the very minor temporary high the glue gave her.  Max came in, holding the large flower between his teeth, trotting down the aisle in a triumphant fashion.  Allison looked over to see Max presenting her with the flower.  She smelled it, but it did not give her even the slightest amusement.  Her swollen red eyes watered as the flowers pungent smell filled her sinuses.  She stood up on two legs and sneezed right onto Max’s face.  Max dropped the flower in astonishment and suddenly he was teleported back to his brick den.  The Junior Talap Wishmaker would grant one wish to anyone who sneezed on the face of the person that had picked (aka murdered) the flower.  In this case, Allison wished for Max to go away.

For two weeks, Max was again depressed and lacking in the macking.  He searched high and low for the next flower that would really impress his new love, Calista the Model Bear.  Calista spent most of her days at the NeighborWood Hidden Lake Resort, poolside, tanning in the moonlight.  The moonlight tanning fad had become a mandated regiment by the bear modeling agency known as Bear-It-All, and was forcing all of their famous bear models to take part in the tanning procedure which consisted of placing a huge amplification telescope above the tanner and focus the beam onto them until they became glowing with moon radiation.

Max was able to catch a spaceship to the Moon and picked a Moonflower for Calista since she seemed to like the Moon and he thought if he got this rare and special Moonflower which you could be arrested for if you picked it because there’s only like three of them left, so it makes it even MORE romantic because he committed a crime to show his love and chicks fall over for that stuff like a domino in a hurricane.

Max was seen by the Moonflower Security Response Team and for the next three days he was in the middle of a Western-Sci-Fi-style laser gunfight and spaceship dogfight campaign to get the flower back to the Earth.  Needless to say, and really the point I’m trying to make, is that Max did a lot to get this flower and it was a lot of effort.

After killing 67 members of the security team, they finally let him go.  Max gained the nickname the Moonflower Assassin for his cunning flower picking skills and being able to elude all of the security around the illustrious Moonflower.

Max , dressed in his space fighter leather jacket, with 67 tally marks on his right shoulder and “Moonflower Assassin” written in capital letters across his back, journeyed up the mountain to the Hidden Lake Resort.  Standing on two legs, he presented the Moonflower to Calista.

“Ugh, what is that?  I don’t even LIKE flowers… harrumph!”  Calista put the cucumbers back on her eyes and began to ignore Max again.

Max fell backward and the Moonflower, encased in its little forcefield blasted off towards the moon, to return to its nest.

Later next week, Max was escorted to the Emergency Sex Change Room.  He had absolutely no luck with women so he decided he wanted to try being one so that he could learn how to make one like him.

He hated flowers forever.

The end.

Moral of the story:  If you only have two minutes to think up a moral to explain your story, you’re doing it wrong.

 

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.