8DAYS (PC) Review

Developer: Santa Clara Games | Publisher: Badland Games || Overall: 8.5

8DAYS is an indie twin-stick shooter from two-man team Santa Clara Games.  Drawing heavily from the contemporary example of Hotline Miami, you’ll even see influence from Metal Gear and traditional “shmups” in this genre cocktail.  The action is spread out over five Chapters, each with a satisfying length and unique theme.

The scenario for the characters you play, known as Lola “Wasp” Cruz and Mike “Ghost” Doe, starts with them working for a Private Military Corporation known as G.O.D. Inc. (Gold, Oil, Diamonds Inc.).  This PMC is apparently the most successful in the world and has its fingers in many political pies — being hired when shit goes down.  For example, the first Chapter has to do with stopping a rice embargo, and the second with a nuclear plant being taken over by Eco-terrorists.  Each Chapter starts with a little vignette to set up the specific mission at hand, and off you go.  The game has tongue-in-cheek humor, considering that the rice embargo is only a problem because the affluent want their daily sushi; another example being the sewers of the nuclear plant have tentacle monsters swimming around in green water, a sharp contrast from the “grounded” first chapter.  The nuclear plant is also occupied by droves of robots that use pistols/rifles/flamethrowers, and then in the middle somewhere you fight some strange mechanical/biological creature that barfs on you as one of his attacks.  It would seem all of these experiments would be a bit much for an energy production facility owned by a utility company.  You also see random “civilians” just moseying about as you have firefights and they tend to get killed in the crossfire or run around and make strange noises.

Normal gameplay consists of strategically taking down enemies before they kill you and getting to the next area.  While there isn’t a requirement to kill everything, if you trip an alarm or are seen by them, they will engage and have the possibility of flanking you.  Deaths will restart you at the very beginning of the area, and some of them can be a bit large.  There are usually multiple paths or strategies to take when completing an area, so if one way doesn’t work, you can try another.  Stealth is also an accessible strategy if you have a melee weapon, as there are a lot of places to hide while enemies patrol around.  Some situations require a gunfight, but as long as you kill whoever is engaged with you, you won’t run the risk of drawing more enemies into the fight.  Bullets are very large and also move slower than you might expect them to depending on the weapon, so it can either be a boon or frustration in that regard.  Co-Op is also available, with a friend being able to jump in at anytime during play.

At certain points through a Chapter you’ll encounter a boss, which breaks up the methodical think-before-you-leap gameplay and works in a traditional shmup-style fight.  As with many things in the game, they take the opportunity to be referential — the final boss of the first Chapter is a Rambo-look-a-like with a machine gun, knife, and red bandana.  You’ll also encounter some other Easter Eggs, such as a “V Has Come To” scribbled on the wall and a party with Metal Gear Solid characters (which is oddly appropriate for me since I’ve been playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for the past month and a half).

Weaponry is varied, and in the initial stages you’ll mostly encounter rifles, shotguns, and SMGs.  You will also see a lot of melee weapons, and as you get further along rocket launchers, silenced pistols, flamethrowers, and EMP bombs become available.  Sometimes destroying certain types of boxes/crates produce ammo, otherwise you’ll be scavenging from your enemies.  Reloading is clip-based, meaning if you manually reload before completely emptying your clip, you will lose the ammo you had remaining.  This might be a bit annoying considering the game let’s you reload even when you have a full clip, so you can easily waste bullets if you aren’t careful; you aren’t allowed to pick up a clip you threw away.  You are only able to keep two weapons at a time, so if you wanted to hang onto a melee weapon you may be exchanging guns quite a bit.

Considering the game can be very challenging, the amount of playtime would potentially vary for you.  Each Chapter kept me going for about an hour, and I died a lot on the way, having to retry over and over.  When done with a Chapter, you’re treated with a little resolution to the problem you solved and then go right into the next scenario.  Chapters are able to be replayed if you so desire, but will only fully unlock in the menu when you finish the level — if you are in the middle of the stage and start a new game you’ll lose all progress and start from the very beginning again.  When you get a Game Over, it is unfortunately very easy to accidentally select “Retry Mission” instead of just “Retry.”  There is no confirmation after accidentally selecting “Retry Mission” and you can lose all progress with no way to go back… admittedly, I learned that the hard way.  There is also no difference in the gameplay between the two characters you can choose, but I personally preferred the character design of “Wasp” over “Ghost.”

The art style is a purposeful throwback to the 8-bit days, though it has a lot more detail to its art than you may normally see when you think “8-bit.”  There is some gruesome death, such as decapitations and gore, and there are also depictions of torture and tons of previously-killed bodies are strewn about levels, which all enhance the violent atmosphere.  The little intro movies to each Chapter are pretty neat, but aren’t too long.  Other stylistic parts of the game also round out the unique feeling of the art and grows on you as you pay closer attention to the detail and are eventually exposed to the variety of locales each Chapter offers.  The music is also a high point, but dips in and out, crossfading with “battle music” every time you start an encounter with an enemy.  This takes away from the enjoyment of the main stage track since you’ll be constantly going in and out of two different songs, but it isn’t disjointed enough where its awful, just a questionable decision in the sound design.

If you’re in the mood for a side-scrolling shmup, 8DAYS is a challenging and satisfying experience.  Defeating each area rewards you with a feeling of accomplishment — earning your wins little by little and progressing you to a new challenge.  8DAYS will be available July 22nd on Steam.

 

Super Mutant Alien Assault (PC) Review

Developer: Cybernate | Publisher: Surprise Attack Games || Overall: 8.5/10

Super Mutant Alien Assault (SMAA) bears no shame in calling itself a clone of “Super Crate Box.”  Fortunately for SMAA, I never heard of (nor played) the game it is a clone of, so I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt when it says that’s what it is.  Now, aside from the gasping in the back corners of the room by those who cannot fathom that someone does not know the “smash hit” Super Crate Box, I say nay nay, good sir.  I heard of it now, and Super Mutant Alien Assault appeals to me on its face much more than whatever that other thing is.  Plus, I like clones because it reminds me of one of my favorite Schwarzenegger movies, The 6th Day.

“You should clone yourself.  So you can go fuck yourself.” (Paraphrased quote from The 6th Day)

SMAA is a platforming shooter that constrains you in one small level.  Each level contains a particular objective that must be completed before proceeding to the next, along the way massacring as many aliens as you need to.  SMAA, at its core, rides on the “roguelite” wave, but only wades in just a bit.  Power-ups are collected, but don’t endlessly stack — you have a limited amount of slots available for special abilities, weapons, and defenses.  Your character isn’t going to get crazy combinations of power-ups, but most of what you use will be swapped for something else that drops.  This forces you to work on a constantly changing strategy throughout your gameplay, rather than sticking with “what works” for as long as you can.  On top of it all, health can be very hard to come by, which makes the game quite a bit unforgiving.  Friendly-fire is also a thing here, so you’ll have to be careful where you chuck your explosives, just in case it bounces back in your general direction.

Level designs and objectives are randomized, but there is a set amount of maps that cycle within each “Galaxy,” which is a set of four levels.  There are no procedurally-generated maps, and objectives will only appear on particular levels designed for that objective.  This doesn’t detract from the enjoyment but it can get a bit stale depending on how long you decide to play in one go.  Objectives include moving an item from Point A to Point B or releasing a build-up of pressure on multiple points on the map.  It is important to get the objective done as fast as possible, as enemies will gain strength the longer you stay in a level.  A level will always require you to clear whatever enemies remain once the objective is fulfilled, so the path of least resistance will not be rewarded in the slightest.

Game unlocks occur as you complete more levels.  Each time you clear a stage you gain a token that sets you along the path to the next automatic unlock.  As you unlock more weaponry/items you’ll also unlock more enemies to have fun with — although this seems more like a punishment when it happens.  It would have been nicer to see enemies unlocked in a different progression, such as number of enemies killed or if a particular boss was cleared.

“Kinda takes the fun out of living, doesn’t it?”

When you actually get into the gameplay it can be quite frantic and most of it is satisfying.  Each level is equipped with its own configuration of Weapon/Explosive vending machines that randomly equip you with one of the weapons you have unlocked so far.  Explosions are by far the most fulfilling thing about the game and it’s a lot of fun to be able to blow the aliens up with a well-timed grenade or cluster bomb.  Some of the normal weaponry is not as exciting, such as the dual submachine guns and the AK47, but the minigun, sniper rifle, and grenade launcher are fun to wield.  My favorite by far is the pogo stick that explodes things you jump on top of — it would have been great if this was more the kind of thing you saw in the game, but instead it is the outlier.  Your weaponry/explosives all have a set number of charges, so you’ll be needing to re-equip yourself as soon as you use up your ammo, which means you’ll get a random item and change your strategy to effectively use your new combination.  Each level also grants you new power-ups in crates to fill out your other ability slots, such as Special Abilities and Defenses.

Special Abilities are fun to use and varied, despite the fact they aren’t able to be used that much due to needing to collect Special Ammo.  Special Ammo drops when you defeat empowered monsters that stick around for a while on the map, and you have to run over the green squares that are dropped before they expire.  This may not always be possible.  Special Abilities and Defenses (that are free to use) include but are not limited to a pillar of energy, pushbacks, running fast, and bullet time.  Defenses don’t damage enemies, but not all Special Abilities deal damage either.

The art is nice and attention is paid to the aliens and levels.  The art style reminds me of old Windows 3.1-era games (not that far removed from DOS games) with a 90’s retro-futuristic design.  The game also runs like a dream 95% of the time, except when you enter hyperdrive when that objective comes around.  The frame lag is helped if you turn off the Screen Shake in the options, but is still apparent even after turning it off — I’m unsure if this is actually intended or not, though, since it “snaps out” of the frame lag as soon as you exit the hyperdrive sequence.  It unfortunately gets pretty annoying when you experience it for the umpteenth time.   The music is all high-energy EDM/Dubstep/electro music and depending on your personal tastes may either be enjoyable or create misery.  It all matches the tempo of the game, but I was somewhere in the middle of the scale with the arrangement.  After about an hour of gameplay, I muted the music and opted for some of my own with the sound effects still on top.

“Doesn’t anybody die any more?”

The game feels a bit bare-bones when you realize that the progression is tied to unlocking weapons through a small number of levels.  Three Galaxies of four levels account for a total of twelve stages, each Galaxy cycling from its own small pool of levels/unlocked bosses.  By design, you’ll be retrying the game over and over since death is inevitable.  Each Galaxy has their own color scheme and set of levels to cycle through, and the game lets you begin on either of the three galaxies you like once you’ve beaten the previous boss level.  To unlock a higher difficulty level you have to start from the first Galaxy and go all the way to the last without dying — which can be quite a task depending on your skills.  Familiarizing yourself with the levels that cycle within a chosen Galaxy is the only way you’ll be able to get through it all in one go.

Super Mutant Alien Assault essentially appeals to those who look for a challenge in their games.  A lot of gameplay comes from perfecting your skills and attempting to get through as many levels as possible before dying and resetting.  The assortment of weapons are fun, keep you on your toes, and as you unlock more powerful weapons and abilities, you’re bound to get further at some point.  However, the biggest buff isn’t a tangible item in the game, it’s your own perseverance to try again and again and again and again….

Super Mutant Alien Assault is available now on Steam for $7.99, currently discounted by 20% from $9.99.

 

Squacklecast Episode 30 – “Dawn of 30s”

This entry is part 30 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Episode 30 is here!  And I made a new song!  Maybe??  I don’t know what it’s going to sound like as I’m typing this, so maybe you’ll like it.

For the first hour or so we catch up about what we’ve been watching (like Daredevil) and a couple of other events.  I talk about how I was able to kill 3 crickets within 30 seconds or so.  We talk primarily about two things, Screening Room which a service that would allow you to watch new movies “day of” in the home.

and for the second hour or so…BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE.

We both saw it so we talk about what we liked, what we didn’t like, etc.  There are spoilers, just in case you are worried.

The whole podcast is the longest we’ve ever done, it seems.  We figured if you’re going to bother listening, you’ll just listen to the whole thing.

 

Quote #24535

“According to some lady named Jessica who has an office literally in the middle of a train station with no walls around her, we have won a $50,000 home makeover (cool!!) and a 7 day trip to any location in the United States (wow!!).

She works for a company named Direct Buy and I saved her phone number in the phone (under the name “Scammer”) in case we get another call from her company.  I asked her for a web site and what her full name was but she hung up on me 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁 🙁  I am sure she will call back because this random selection process that she had told us about sounds like an amazingly legitimate prize.”

– davepoobond, e-mailing his co-workers after receiving a phone call from a scammer

 

Deadly Tower of Monsters, The (PC) Review

Developer: ACE Team | Publisher: Atlus USA || Overall: 8.5

B-Movie science fiction is always characterized by its low-budget charm.  You could see right through the awful costumes, terrible props, and strings the monsters would hang off from — all of which added to the fun.  The Deadly Tower of Monsters seeks to recapture this aesthetic of effects supplanted by computer graphics… by replicating them with computer graphics.

ACE Team, the developer of The Deadly Tower of Monsters, did an amazing job in recreating the B-Movie feel as you play, keeping it interesting throughout.  The set up for the story begins as if you are watching the “movie” on DVD with commentary by the belligerent director, Dan Smith.  As you defeat stop-motion monsters, while completing missions across the sprawling tower, Dan Smith will acknowledge and give background on certain aspects of the production — breaking the fourth/”fifth” wall, reminding you that you are “watching a movie” while playing the game, or rather listening in on the recording session for said commentary.  There are a lot of layers here.

Though the game is not usually laugh-out-loud funny (there are a few great jokes), it is entirely tongue-in-cheek.  Throughout, they introduce new elements that kept me consistently amused.  The attention to detail adds to the goal of being a successful B-Movie homage and the commentary track spreads a layer of cynicism about the film industry on top.  It is important to listen to the commentary while you play, as it is an integral part of the story, and the uniqueness of the game.  Your typical gaming tropes are also explained away using movie tropes, such as blaming watching deleted scenes for when you die and the director “intentionally” wanting the actor to stand still for five minutes “because it is artistic” if you decide to idle for a while.  Some of these tropes are less clever than others, but the narrative essentially includes all of your deaths and “mistakes” as part of the experience.

The visuals and art style are very important to the successful execution of the B-movie homage.  A stop-motion frame-rate effect is used on many of the monsters and is one of the best effects used.  Since most of the game runs at a higher-frame rate than an actual movie would, the most “filmic” part of the game comes with the stop-motion effect and serves to distinguish it from the rest of the “movie” quite well.  Homage is paid to practically every genre of classical sci-fi, with obvious references to Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, and others including dinosaurs, bugs, an evil scientist, giant robots, clones, and a galactic emperor among a wide range of other characters and monsters.

The level design of the tower is essentially a humongous and vertically sprawling 3D platforming level.  You will go for what seems like miles in mostly one direction: up.  While the prevailing theme is space technology, on the ground-level you will encounter things like mutant insects and dinosaurs.  As you climb, the tower is very elaborate and changes themes more meticulously within science fiction.  You will encounter aliens, disembodied brains, space slugs, and other fun monsters.  All parts of the tower are fluidly accessible, and there are no loading screens unless you warp around to checkpoints.

The tower is used to the game’s advantage occasionally.  You are usually tasked with shooting enemies from below in reverse-Space-Invaders style.  At any time you can be knocked off the tower, sending you into a free-fall towards the bottom; mistiming your platforming will also have the same result.  To counteract the annoyance of having to re-scale the tower you can easily warp to any checkpoint, or use an “Air Teleport” button that is available if you haven’t landed on another platform yet.  You also take fall-damage and have a very low amount of jetpack fuel to adjust and break your fall.  Unfortunately, you are not allowed to control the camera very much, which can be annoying at times, but it wouldn’t make sense in the context of watching a movie to be able to switch an angle at any time.  On the plus side, the platforming is designed well enough where this isn’t usually an issue.  For similar reasons, the game is very linear and there isn’t as much exploring to do as you might expect in a 3D platformer.

Combat gameplay is fun and light, and the weapon variety is also great.  Enemies and weapons alike keep the “B-Movie” aesthetic, where you can plainly see re-purposed household items or other everyday items, such as a vacuum cleaner or a puppy, being used as space-age weaponry and monsters.  As you have access to three different characters, their real difference comes in their special abilities.  Dick Starspeed is able to use landmines, Scarlet Nova has a running speed ability, and The Robot is able to use a time vortex ability.  All of the characters will gain more unique abilities you can use during combat and only cost a time-based cooldown, whereas your energy weapons deplete from an energy bar.

Upgrading weaponry, skills, switching characters, and other gameplay systems are accessed via in-game computer consoles.  While they show up often enough, it can detract from the “joy” of playing around with the progression systems and possibly even the “movie” aesthetic.  The systems aren’t very complicated, but it is sort of questionable why they give you 16 different weapons, but only allow you to have access to four at any given time before switching around at a console.  It would have felt better to be able to switch out weaponry through a pause menu (a prop closet?) since in-game consoles aren’t necessarily used in an intriguing gameplay fashion other than to be more props to put in the levels.  The in-game consoles bring up a game-based UI regardless, so the argument for being immersive doesn’t hold very much weight.  It might have also been more convenient to halve the variety of weapons and allow you to use them at all times; instead I just keep four random weapons and rarely trade them out.  Despite that, the variety of weaponry is still a nice part of the game.

Difficulty and challenges in the game are not too bad.  If you die, checkpoints are usually pretty close to where you could possibly die.  That isn’t to say you don’t need to play smart (as health is hard to come by), but the only real punishment for dying is wasting time.  Puzzles aren’t too trying on the intelligence and there’s only a few situations where you need to use one of your special abilities to get items or into certain areas.  There are also miscellaneous missions that aren’t easily earned on your first trek up and will require you to backtrack certain parts of the tower to complete.  One fun side-quest is jumping off the tower and skydiving into floating hoops, using the tower’s height to the game’s advantage.  The game can be pretty short as well, but its nice to be able to get through a whole game in a couple of days.

If you are a fan of classic film and games, you will get a blast out of The Deadly Tower of Monsters.  Even if you aren’t knowledgeable about older sci-fi film, it is a light, fun, and short game that is visually pleasing and humorous.  It is available now on Steam at a sale price of $9.89, and regularly priced at $14.99.

 

Squacklecast Episode 29 – “Air Bag Recall Beyond Darkness Awakens”

This entry is part 29 of 31 in the series The Squacklecast

Hey everyone!  Sorry for the long break, but we’re finally back with a new Squacklecast.

This time we talk a little bit about the reason behind using aliases on the web site as well as the inspiration/explanation behind the current theme song for the 3rd set of Squacklecasts.  I’ll be debuting a new song for the 4th set (Episodes 30 through 39) with Episode 30.

With David Bowie‘s passing this month, we go into David Bowie‘s career and what movies/music we personally have interest in when it comes to him.

The Prestige is the most notable acting performance to me, other than knowing he was in Labyrinth.  Music was obviously a big part of our exposure.

davidbowieprestige

The Man Who Fell to Earth is the movie Billy referenced to.  The Hunger, as well.

Red Dawn has been stuck on my desk for like six months.  I never seem to have “time” to sit and watch a movie for 2 hours because there’s so many other things to do (like this).

Netflix DVD was on its way to being called Qwikster at some point.  We talk about the effects of the movie/TV show streaming on small rental stores.

Fierce Creatures was the most recent “rare” DVD I’ve had to get from Netflix because it was a very long wait.

I finished Quantum Leap last month, and I’m still watching Gotham, but its on break.  They announced plans for a possible spin-off in the future.

The new Star Trek series speculation.  What we think it’ll be like and what we hope for.  Battlestar Galactica discussion.

…and Star Wars discussion   What else did you expect?  The Force Awakens was released since last podcast, and we talk about why Star Wars has become such a big cultural relevance.

starwarsforceawakensreyfinn

A deeper Star Trek movie discussion commences after.

Other random movie stuff, like Die Hard, Terminator: Genisys, etc.

We go into a longer discussion of Terminator: Gensisys and talk about how laser weapons, time travel, and killer robots are much more believable than one billion pre-orders of an operating system.  Also, the movie seemed to be trolling people after the third time travel jump.  They also turned Terminators into metal zombies.  It was basically one big cartoon of a movie.

It’s a lot easier to remember what you didn’t talk about when you do more than one podcast every 3 months.

See ya guys next time!

 

Rolls of Justice

INT. Apartment-type room.

PORTER RODELL fumbles around with the camera as he sets it up.

PORTER
Fucking tripod, I don’t understand this shit.

Porter leaves the camera alone and walks back a little bit.

PORTER
Okay I’ve had enough of this shit man. Nick and his supertanker of an ass seemingly use up all the toilet paper in the house, constantly. That shit is expensive. And he’s a fucking—

The video cuts, and in Porter’s place we see NICK STALWHART, Porter’s roommate.

NICK
I’d just like to say that Porter has got it all wrong. I don’t know what Porter uses all of his toilet paper on, he still smells like he doesn’t wipe his ass.

PORTER (Off-screen)
2 squares bitch! That’s all you need! 3-ply Quilted goodness filleting my taint!

NICK
Man, you’re gross!

Video cuts again and Nick and Porter are in front of the camera.

NICK
Alright, let it be known that starting today, we will monitor both of our toilet paper usage on video.

PORTER
And we’ll finally prove that you’re trying to destroy our toilet with your massive shits.

NICK
Man, shut up!

PORTER
You’re always in there for thirty minutes, at least!

NICK
I like to watch videos.

PORTER
What the fuck?

Nick stands up and turns off the camera while Porter looks at him in astonishment.

Cut to Nick holding the camera and recording two new rolls of toilet paper. Nick’s name is on one roll and Porter’s is on the other.

NICK
To test our hypothesis, we have two new rolls of toilet paper. All previous rolls of toilet paper have been burned as to prevent any cheating. These rolls will be used until gone. When one is used up all the way, we will compare to the other roll to see how much is left.

Nick moves the camera to look at Porter.

NICK
Say hi to the camera Porter!

PORTER
Man, FUCK YOU!

PORTER smacks NICK but you only see PORTER’s hand go off-screen.

Cut to Porter holding the camera and walking around the house to a closed door.

PORTER
The time is now 7:05 pm. Nick has been in here since six FORTY FIVE.

NICK (Behind door)
HEY! What the hell are you doing out there Porter?

PORTER
Nothing Nick! Nothing at all!

NICK (Behind door)
You’re a fucking liar!

PORTER
HEY FUCK YOU

NICK
EAT ME!

PORTER
OH YOU SON OF A BITCH

PORTER fumbles with the camera and it turns off.

Cut to Nick holding the camera and looking down at the rolls of toilet paper.

NICK
After one day, we are about even. For reference we have another new roll of toilet paper.  About 1/8 of an inch has been used off each of the respective rolls.

PORTER
Respective? I hate that word! Why do you use it? You’re such a lamer!

NICK
It’s not lame to be sophisticated!

PORTER
And it’s sophisticated to have a good vocabulary?

NICK
Actually, yes.

PORTER
Then I’m glad I’m not sophisticated because I don’t want to be a sour gummy bear!

NICK
A what?

PORTER
That’s my word for being the ultimate form of stupid! See, I can be sophisticated too, with my extreme mastery of the English language!

NICK
Fucking Porter.

Cut to Nick holding the camera.

NICK
There has to be some way of disproving Porter’s 2-Square Law. It’s impractical, and I know he’s lying. I must go to the source. I have been able to trap a flush of Porter’s… “business” by rigging the plumbing to dump into a basket outside. As I do not want to get the camera dirty, I will investigate and report back in due time.

Cut to Nick gasping.

NICK
Oh god, I dug through his shit for like 20 minutes. I couldn’t find ANY toilet paper at ALL. I am now of the persuasion that this man does not use any toilet paper at all! No wonder he always smells like fecal matter!

Cut to Nick holding the camera as he goes toward Porter on the couch.

NICK
Ah-ha! There you are! You’re a goddamn louse – a cheater at the very least!

PORTER
What the fuck are you talking about?

NICK
You sick fuck! I trapped one of your toilet flushes in a basket outside. There was no toilet paper at all!

PORTER
Wh-wh-what the fuck did you just say?

NICK
YOU DON’T USE TP!

PORTER (breaking down)
I-i-its true…I don’t use toilet paper at all. I’m allergic to it, my legs chafe after I use it. I have to…use my hands!

NICK
WHAT THE FUCK!

PORTER
But it was to my benefit! I would have won this raspberry-filled chocolate of a contest!

NICK
But wait a second, that doesn’t make any sense. If you don’t use toilet paper, then how come your toilet paper roll has been steadily decreasing?

PORTER (shrugging)
I dunno…

NICK
There is a saboteur in our midst! There is only one person that can be behind it! Or two.

Camera style changes from this point on. Becomes more like a normal movie.

Nick and Porter walk slowly to a closed door with no lights on behind it.

Nick and Porter look at each other. Nick gulps and then knocks on the door. As he knocks on the door, the door creaks open, obviously not shut all the way. The room is dark.

NICK
Um…hey uhh…Alan? Are you…are you there?

PORTER (whispering)
He’s not here let’s go, let’s just drop it.

NICK
Shut up! I heard something!

A growling noise is heard.

ALAN
Grrrrrrr…

Nick and Porter take a step back.

ALAN
Who the FUCK is that?

NICK
Ummm hey Alan, it’s Nick!

PORTER
And Porter!

ALAN
I know who it is! What the fuck do you want, you dweebs?

NICK
Uh well…Alan I was wondering…

PORTER
We were wondering if you knew how much we owe you for electricity!

NICK
No, actually, Alan…

PORTER
Shut up, I don’t want to ask him anymore!

Alan peers out through the cracks of the door.

ALAN
What……is it……!?

NICK
Well, you see Alan, Porter and I, you see…

ALAN
That’s the most intelligent thing you’ve said.  “I see.” — I DO see. I see two stupid mother fuckers wasting my god damn time. Do you know how that makes me feel?

PORTER
HAVE YOU BEEN STEALING MY TOILET PAPER??

ALAN
Oh God. What the hell is this shit?

PORTER
Have you been stealing my toilet paper?

ALAN
………YES, its true! Oh I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I only put up this macho man appearance so that you would be scared to ask me about your toilet paper disappearing.

Alan opens the door wide and grovels at Porter and Nick’s feet.

ALAN
I’m soooo sorry…I can’t make excuses for what I’ve done in the past. The only thing I ask of you is to please not punish me too badly for what I’ve done!

NICK
I don’t believe this.

PORTER
Me neither.

ALAN
Its not like you’re using it anyway, I figured what would be the problem, you know. I wish I could scoop it all out with my hands but I’m not that kind of person. I’m not, however much I try. I come from the slums of Burbank, you know? We don’t have luxuries like Toilet Paper or CD players or air for that matter!

NICK (whispering to Porter)
What the fuck is he talking about?

PORTER (whispering back)
I don’t know, I thought he was your friend?

NICK (whispering)
He is, but we grew up in Anaheim…

Porter shrugs.

ALAN
And then there was the time I went to the bowling alley and played Revolution X until my ears bled from too much Aerosmith.

Nick picks up Alan and shoves him back into his dark room.

NICK
That’s why we don’t give you any light bulbs Alan! I’m afraid of what you might do if you could actually see what’s around you!

PORTER
That kid’s fucked up.

NICK
It’s not like Alan to make decisions on his own. He was put up to it by someone else…

Nick and Porter appear in front of another door.

NICK
I’m sure he was the one that made Alan steal our toilet paper.

PORTER
Are you sure you want to confront him? It’s only been 7 days since he’s tried to foul up our Cranium game.

NICK
Cranium is a different matter. This is Toilet Paper!

Nick and Porter enter the room without knocking and are face-to-face with their enemy.

NICK
Nathaniel.

A sinister-looking man stands in front of his window, facing Nick and Porter.

NATHANIEL
The infamous Nick and Porter. Your shenanigans have become tiresome in this household. I have brought it upon myself to bring you down.

PORTER
Downstairs?

NATHANIEL
No.

NICK
But we’re upstairs.

NATHANIEL
Shut up.

PORTER
I don’t get it. This is kinda Almond Joy-ish.

NATHANIEL
Almond Joy what?

PORTER
Perplexing.

NATHANIEL
What the fuck are you talking about?

PORTER
Almond Joy-ish. It means perplexing.

NATHANIEL
What the fuck?

NICK
A myriad of vehement staplers are on their way to crush your impotent dreams of grandeur, Nathaniel!

NATHANIEL
Ok, I’m so fucking lost right now.  You two are fucking idiots. Just leave my room. I’ll give you the rent check later.

Cut to Nick and Porter outside Nathaniel’s room and the door shuts behind them.

NICK
Well, that was easy.

PORTER
Milky Way.

NICK
Would you stop that shit?

PORTER
I can’t, it’s the different things I call my creations as I scoop my ass.

NICK
Oh god.

NATHANIEL (off screen)
WHY IS THERE A BASKET OF SHIT UNDER MY WINDOW OH GOD IT SMELLS SO BAD!! I’LL GET YOU NICK AND PORTER!

NARRATOR
And the conspiracy to bring down the emperors of 307A had been demolished. Nick and Porter went on to become CEOs of AIG and Lehman Brothers at the same time, while Alan became CEO of Washington Mutual. Nathaniel stayed at home with his mom after college and worked at the local bookstore until he was forty as a cashier. Being fuddled by Nick and Porter had taken its toll on him and he lost all reason for living. He now has 50 max-level characters on World of Warcraft and sells gold to friends around town.

Moral of the story is: If you shit in a toilet, wipe up.

 

GameTwist Slots (iOS) Review

Developer: Novomatic Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  8.5/10

GameTwist Slots is a slot game available on the iOS store.  If you want a no-fuss, varied slot experience, this may very well be up your alley.

Including 22 slots in all, you’ll start with 5000 credits and free reign on any of the slots you want to play.  As there is no progression system in the game, you won’t be met with any locks on any of the content.  Slots are easily downloadable at your discretion and you can select your favorites.  When you select a favorite, they will appear in their own tab where you can quickly select it as soon as you start the app.

Each slot has their own bonus games and art.  There are also special animated squares, depending on the slot’s theme, and many refer to something in popular culture, while others are more of a traditional slot theme.

Some of the slots available are:

  • Book of Ra Deluxe
  • Lucky Lady’s Charm
  • Sizzling Hot
  • Golden Ark
  • Gorilla
  • Royal Fruits
  • African Simba
  • Marilyn: Red Carpet
  • Wild! Roaring Forties

If you’re interested in slots games, GameTwist Slots has a great variety to add to your collection.

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Happy Fruits – Pub Slot (iOS) Review

Developer/Publisher: Mazooma Interactive Games || Overall:  8.5/10

Happy Fruits – Pub Slot is a fruit-themed slots game available on iOS.  As a single-themed slot, the experience revolves solely around the theme of smiling, jumping, happy fruit.  With some interesting bonus games, this slots game is one of the better slots games available.

As everything is Happy and Fruit themed, even the standard 10, J, Q, K, A letters are animated and smiling.  They represent different types of fruit, such as the Green J fruit, the Blue K fruit, and my favorite, the purple Q fruit.  They look so delicious, you’ll want to eat them!

Similar to other slots games, you’ll unlock features as you play.  Each level allows you to bet at a higher cap, and at level 5, Auto Play is unlocked.  You get bonus credits every level and as a timed bonus every four hours.  You start out with 2500 credits which can easily get you a few levels up just by itself.  Each bet will add XP to your player level, so higher bets will get you levels faster.

There are also several interesting bonuses.  The largest bonus is the three progressive jackpots that slowly grow as you play.  The pick-a-win multiplier, in which you choose one of three possible bonuses, multiply your bet by the one that is chosen.  The most frequent one I encountered was the Crazy Streak spin bonus in which you will be taken to a 3-slot game that rolls slots automatically.  When you gain three of a certain fruit in each of the allocated spaces respectively, you’ll attain the bonus that fruit type is assigned.  Once you get the killer tomatoes that require the bonus game to end, the rolls will stop and you’ll receive the payout.  This bonus game is pretty fun as you’ll see things slowly fill in and as you progress in levels you’ll be able to last longer against the tomatoes on average.

Happy Fruits – Pub Slot is an interesting slots game that has a unique bonus game and theme to offer to players.  If you are interested in trying out the game, it is available on the App Store.

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PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate (PC) Review

Developer: Q-Games/Double Eleven | Publisher: Q-Games || Overall: 9.5/10

Q-Games’ PixelJunk series has become one of my favorites over the past few years. Starting with one of my all-time favorite games, PixelJunk Monsters, any time a new PixelJunk game gets announced it has gotten my attention. A couple of years ago I had purchased PixelJunk Shooter on Steam and fell in love with the blending of puzzles with twin-stick shooter gameplay. While I was never a big fan of twin-stick shooters by themselves, PixelJunk Shooter elevates the genre to a new height by integrating fast-paced, unique, and well-designed puzzles. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate, released in October, carries over all of PixelJunk Shooter 1 and includes PixelJunk Shooter 2, which continues the game in new and challenging ways.

The general goal of PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is to complete stages by collecting diamonds and scientists. Each “episode” is segmented into five different stages, and each stage is divided into a certain amount of “scenes.” Each full stage probably can take anywhere from 20 minutes to 45 minutes depending on your ability to figure out puzzles. In most scenes, a lot of trial and error may occur, and you’ll have to memorize the order in which you do actions to succeed. This feeds into the idea that you want to be able to perfect your run through the scene to collect all of the diamonds, all of the scientists alive, getting out of the scene without dying yourself and in the quickest way possible. There is one boss per episode with six episodes total. Shooter 1 is the first three episodes, while Shooter 2 is the second three. Shooter 2 continues right where the first left off in terms of the story.

Most of the gameplay revolves around the liquid elemental aspects of puzzles. You’ll see lots of different types of liquid as you venture deep through the planet, all of which do various things to you and with each other when they interact. While you don’t have a health bar, per se, you have a “Heat Gauge.” The Heat Gauge hitting its max will spell your end, but you’ll be able to skate by as long as it doesn’t hit 100%, and even then if you somehow land in water you might recover. Your Heat Gauge will increase when you use special-fire missiles, get hit by enemy fire, or get close to Lava. You’ll be able to cool down by submersing yourself in Water, and while in water you are able to infinitely spam your missiles. Water and Lava, are the primary elements you’ll encounter in the game, and when they interact, it creates rock that you can blast through with your lasers. You won’t be able to swim through Lava usually, so that is one of the many kinds of simple puzzles you’ll see in the game. Where it gets complicated is when you should do these things and how they affect other parts of your current puzzle, and this kind of decision making is integral to the experience of the game. You’ll also be able to use “Suits” in certain scenes where they are available, which will change the rules in how you interact with these elements in unique ways. This keeps the gameplay fresh and varied. Each Episode ends with an exciting boss battle that primarily focuses on combat rather than puzzles, but you’ll still have to remember what you’ve learned, as they do usually use the elements you have become familiar with.

At first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to carry over my progress from the previous game. I had practically completed the whole game at this point, but hadn’t gotten to the end. Fortunately, you can load a save from PixelJunk Shooter 1 if you have it already on Steam. This allows you to continue right from where you may have left off. Those of us who had played the first game will notice immediately that there have been various UI improvements and a simpler way of knowing you’ve collected one of the objectives in each of the scenes. This helps when you inevitably have to go back and replay stages you didn’t do too well on. Also, diamonds you’ve already collected do not appear anymore, as opposed to the previously where you had to collect a total number larger than you had before so that it would count as more diamonds. This makes it easier to collect diamonds and doesn’t require you to memorize where all of them are across the whole stage.

A new art style known as the “Ultimate” art style is the default in this version of the game. The art has been upgraded to give it a more 3D look and benefit from effects such as lighting. The “Classic” art style is still available, which has a more hand-drawn, flat 2D look. While I personally prefer the Classic art style, the Ultimate art style still keeps the general charm of the art and looks pretty neat. I found myself actually playing in the Ultimate art style after a little while to benefit from the extra effects they added in. As a result of this newer art style it does seem to have upped the minimum requirements of your PC a bit. Music has an upbeat/jazzy/electronic feel and fits in very well. Music is always one of the strong points of PixelJunk, and this game is no exception. Music will also fade out as you get closer to a boss, to give it a feeling as if something big looms near (and it usually does).

Overall, it seems like there is about 20 hours’ worth of gameplay on your first play-through. To get perfect scores on each level, it will probably take you a lot longer since you’ll most likely miss a lot on the first time through. You’ll probably be forced to replay previous levels if you don’t have enough diamonds to unlock the next stage, so it won’t really be something you’ll avoid completely, anyway. There is also a sense of accomplishment in completing a whole stage perfectly. There is also enough variety that going back and replaying a stage won’t feel cumbersome.

As far as alternate game modes go, there is a local co-op mode and an online multiplayer mode. The online multiplayer is based more on competitively completing objectives and unlocking gear as you progress. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem to be very popular, so it is hard to find anyone to play with in the League mode. However, you can play online with a friend who owns the game, so this mode isn’t completely a loss. I don’t put much stake in requiring a multiplayer mode for my games so it is easy for me to ignore it. It was disappointing to not be able to try it out at least a couple of times, though.

Shooter’s formula is simple yet the design is complex and multilayered. You’ll be forced to master the basic formula, and then be challenged when the rules change and the formula gets thrown out the window. Some levels are fast paced, while others focus more on puzzles, and yet others focus on defeating enemies. PixelJunk Shooter Ultimate is one of my most favorite games in the past few years, and is highly recommended.  It is available now on Steam.

 

Roulette Live Casino (iOS) Review

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

Part of the AbZorba suite of casino games, Roulette Live Casino is available for the iOS.  A simple, easy to play Roulette game using the AbZorba Avatar system, Roulette Live Casino is a perfect way for a beginner to understand the basics of the table game.

Once you sit at a table, it is easy to bet on the spots you for the next spin.  While Inside Betting on numbers directly will pay out the most, they are the least likely to hit.  Most of your bets should be spread out, and on the category-type Outside Bets, such as Black, Red, 1st 12, 2nd 12, etc.  There is a Help option that teaches these terms and how they are related to their payouts, so you’ll be able to know what you’re betting on.

The game will allow you to play with other people and you can see what bets other people do.  No one competes with each other, but you may be motivated to try and get a better total win than others on the table, or engage with them socially.  The options to place bets are simple taps with your finger, and you can also easily wipe your bets or place the same bets again with the on-screen commands.  There is a timer in the bottom corner that will inform you how much time you have for the current bet.

Roulette Live Casino also utilizes the same Avatar system as their other games, and you can make some fun custom combinations as well as opt to buying a “Hero” with Diamonds.  Chips are earned through regular play.  In-app Purchases are available for both currencies.

Roulette Live Casino is a nice roulette game for your iOS devices and if you are interested in learning the ropes of roulette.

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Squackle.com! Mottos

Mottos are needed when you want to boast about how good your site is.  Here’s a bunch of mottos and potential ad blurbs I thought up.  They may or may not be used at some point.

Mottos:

  • Squackle.com!  The Funniest Site on the Net!
  • Squackle.com!  Bitches Beware!
  • Squackle.com!  The Site That Saved the World! / The “Site” That Saved(?) “the” World!
  • Squackle.com!  Better Than Porn!
  • Squackle.com!  Annoying the World, One Person at a Time
  • Squackle.com!  Annoying the World, More Than One Person at a Time
  • Squackle.com!  Bringing You and Your Family Closer to Insanity
  • Squackle.com!  So Much Crap, So Little Time
  • Squackle.com!  70% of Our Visitors Probably Have Their Pants Around Their Ankles
  • Squackle.com!  We didn’t cut the fat!
  • Squackle.com!  One of the Funniest Sites on the Net (deprecated, but classic)
  • Squackle.com!  A Lot of Advantages
  • There’s a place for everything, even your mom, on Squackle.com

Ad Blurbs:

  • Hey, fag.  Go to Squackle! www.squackle.com
  • Jo MAMA lives in Bahrain! Buy the shirt at www.squackle.com
  • I screwed jo mama after she went to this site www.squackle.com
  • There’s naked pictures of your momma on the web. Go here to see them. www.squackle.com
  • ohh The Best Part of Wakin’ Up, is screwin your mom up the assssss! www.squackle.com
  • Hey, you.  Do something productive with your meaningless life and go to this meaningless site.  It’s funny!  Tell people about it, too.
  • Squackle <—— funny site.   Tell people about it.
  • Hey you!  Got nothing to do?  Go to this site, it’s funny, and there is funny stuff there, too!  Go as soon as you can, this shit is hi-frickin-larious.  Tell people about it, too!
  • Ain’t today pretty?  Pretty boring!  Wanna get un-bored?  Go to this site, it’s funny and well worth it to go.  So go now, and tell people about it, too!
 

GameTwist Casino (iOS) Review

Developer: Novomatic Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

GameTwist Casino is a multi-themed slots package.  Unlike some similar multi-slot apps, there is a progression system that requires you to level up to unlock more slots.  Starting out with 20,000 credits and three slots unlocked, you’ll gain levels and progress through the slots available.

As variety is one of the important aspects of GameTwist Casino, it is important to note how many slots there are.  There are currently 25 slots available, each unlocked every couple of levels at the lowest levels.  The highest slot is currently unlocked at level 160.  The progression system allows you to focus on the a smaller subset of slots as you unlock more, but not at a slow enough rate where you don’t feel like you lack the variety the game intends to offer.

You’ll unlock your 10th slot at around level 15, which is easily attainable after spending a little while with each of the slots you’ll unlock up to that point.  The gaps between unlocks grows as you get higher in levels.  The GameTwist Casino lobby is also easy to use as you can download the slots one at a time, and easily choose which one you are interested in playing.  Every level gained nets you a bonus, as well as the four hour Timed Bonus.

The art in the slots games is nice, and there are many 3D animations that enhance the general experience.  When a large win happens, big letters such as “BIG WIN” will appear which ups the excitement factor.  The user interface for the slots are consistent so you won’t have to “learn” anything new when you open up a new slot.

Some of the slots available are as follow:

  • Book of Ra deluxe
  • Gorilla
  • Sizzling Hot
  • Reel King
  • Lord of the Ocean
  • Marilyn Red Carpet
  • Golden Ark
  • African Simba

GameTwist Casino’s generous starting bonus allow for a lot of play to get used to and unlock many of the initial slots.  To get all of the slots unlocked, it will take a time commitment.  If you enjoy slots games, it can be fun to unlock the slots, as they feel like a reward when you attain the level milestone.

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Cops & Robbers Safecracker (iOS) Review

Developer: Mazooma Interactive Games | Publisher: Funstage Games  || Overall:  9.0/10

Police chasing down the crooks is one of your classic scenarios for media.  On the iOS App Store, Cops & Robbers Safecracker is a free-to-play slots game that integrates the titular theme for your gaming pleasure.

You’ll notice immediately the cartoon-style the game inherits.  Overall, it has a 1920’s UK theme for the characters, and paired with the terminology, such as “You’re nicked!” the slots game has a certain charm to it that can appeal to the user.

What is really fun about this slots game is that being a singular theme allows the developer to focus on bonuses and expand upon the chosen theme.  With the normal slots game, which is a 5-Column slot format, you get pay outs for three/four/five-in-a-row matches.  You’ll see the standard 10, J, Q, K, A letters for slots, with a Police Officer being the second highest, and the “Cops ‘n’ Robbers” logo for the highest pay out.  There are also bulldogs that stand in as the Wild.  You are able to gamble your winnings at the end of a roll by way of a 50% chance predicting a Red or Black card being drawn.  This option can be toggled on and off as you desire and you can increase your bet in increments of 25, and after 100, increments of 100.  This allows you to fine tune how much you want to use, and the Auto Play toggle will show how many spins you can play at the current stake level before you turn Auto Play on again.

Along with the seven matching items for pay outs, a number of themed bonus items may appear.  If three of them appear on the board, you’ll enter one of the exciting bonus games.  Each bonus game is unique and can hold a lot of reward.

Your typical bonus comes in free spins.  Rolling three safes will earn you those free spins and you’ll choose between the three different safes.  They will have a different amount of spins each and the payouts you win during the free spins will be multiplied, which ups the value of your free spins considerably.

Getting three swag bags activates a bonus in which you choose one of three colored bags.  Each of the colored bags has a different amount of credits to be awarded.  As you play the normal slots game, these swag bags will slowly mature, and whatever the credit value is assigned to them at the time of the bonus activation is what you will get if you choose that bag.  The bags will be shuffled and you only choose one, so it is a 1/3 chance to get any of the three.  After the bonus, the colored bag you chose resets to a default value and proceeds to progressively mature again.

If you get three Crooks, you will enter a dice roll “Chase” bonus game.  A board is displayed with credit values, and you will roll a dice when ready.  The dice roll will dictate where your Crook lands on the board, and those credits are what you will earn for doing so.  After you roll, the police will roll as well, and they will either catch you or miss you.  If you are caught, you will be put in a suspect line-up, where you have a random 1/3 chance to get away and roll again on the board for more credits.  If the Crook is identified, your bonus round is over and you’ll return to the slots game.

Sound effects are also fun with voices, police sirens, jail noises, and other themed noises.  Visual effects are nice and the art style helps the game with its charm.  Every four hours will also earn you a free 500 credits, allowing you to start with about 2500 credits when you install.

If you’re looking for a slots game that integrates a multitude of bonus games, Cops ‘n’ Robbers Safecracker is a fun slots game.  One of the advantages of playing video slots is that the bonus games can become fairly interactive and exciting, and this is one of those instances that takes advantage of that fact.

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