California Water Saving Tips

California is in a perpetual drought.  We need tips!  Tips that will help save water!!!

– There are a number of ways to save water, and they all start with you.

– Rip out all of your grass. Dirt needs to be watered a lot less than grass.

– Use only paper plates and plastic-ware.  Water isn’t used to make those things.

– If you want to take a 15-minute shower, just don’t eat a hamburger.  You save water in what is probably a completely different state than California, and you don’t have to feel bad about it.  Those damn cows drink as much water as a 25 minute shower at least.

– Only use water from water bottles, they are probably not from California, maybe.  The likelihood goes up if you buy something labeled as a foreign country or place.

– Use vodka to make your Kool-Aid.

– Don’t drink water, drink your own sweat. It’s like recycling your own water.

– Bathe in fire.  It kills more germs.

– If you take a shit, remove the shit from the water, take it to work and flush it there.

– Wash your hands with your pee.

– Import ice from the North Pole/Antarctica.  It is melting anyway.

– Move out of California.

– Continue to disappoint your mother and harvest her tears.

– Shoot people who use water.

– Travel back in time and use the water before its gone.

– Use only your hands to drink water.

– Don’t eat fruits or vegetables.  You won’t waste water having to wash them.

– Keep a pitcher of water next to the toilet, that way any toilet water that splashes out goes down you and not on the floor.

– Reuse leftover water from the nuclear reactor to cook your spaghetti.

– Don’t cook food that requires water.

– Don’t buy fruits or vegetables that originate from California.

– Freeze water, that way it expands and you will have more water.

– Wash your laundry in another State.

– Don’t wash your clothes.  Use them one time and then return it to the store.

– Don’t take a shower.  You’ll save like a bajillion gallons of water a month.

– Put food coloring in your toilet.  It will mask the unpleasant color your unflushed piss and poo water will create naturally.  Don’t let FoodBabe know.

– Upgrade older toilets with rocket capability.

– Turn off the water while you brush your teeth.  That will save 40 gallons a minute.  That’s up to 250,000 gallons a day for a family of 6748.

– If your toilet was installed before 1992, thank the plumber.

– Consider a dual-flush toilet.  It will flush your toilet twice and use twice as much water.

– Take showers instead of luxurious baths.  You’re getting clean here, and only babies take baths.

– Don’t have children that use water.  Birth only dirt babies.

– Avoid having fun with water.  Fun wastes water.

– Avoid recreational water toys, they use water.

– See a leak you can’t fix?  Learn how to by going to plumber’s trade school for a year.

– Steal your water from a multinational corporation that isn’t based in California.

– Remove the cement from your driveway so that water can flood your home and not drain into the ocean.

– Start calling California “Arizona” instead of “California.”

– Plant alien plants that require human blood to live.

– Consider converting your home into an alien spaceship that does not require water to run.

– Start a compost pile in your bedroom.  This keeps the compost pile from evaporating its precious water.

– Don’t jerk off in the shower anymore.  Or just jerk off without the water on and then clean up afterwards.

– Plant water-hating plants.

– Hire the 10 year old kid next door to rip out your irrigation system.

– Catch water in an empty tuna can.  Then drink it.

– Use your hanging basket plants as pinatas.

– Only have sex in the Jacuzzi, the swimming pool needs too much water.

– Make your swimming pool tacky by removing waterfalls and stupid bullshit that makes it look nice.  Then you won’t want to swim in your pool anymore and you will contemplate just getting rid of the whole thing.

– Get rid of pesky pets that need water to survive.  Pet Rocks are coming back in style.

– Post a hotline in bathrooms that people can call so they can finish their shits faster.  I don’t know how this saves water, but I can at least take a shit since I’ve been waiting for 10 minutes!  God damn!

– Water-shame people who keep water in a bottle that is clearly not purchased from a store new.

– Do not drink processed water, it is unhealthy for you, similar to processed meats.  It is not as nature intended!

– Clean water is man-made, therefore it is unnatural and unhealthy!  It takes a lot of water to make clean water.

– Don’t put water inside water.  You lose the water you are putting inside of the water as it becomes just one water.

– Appoint a water ambassador to the ocean and beg it for rain.

– Marry or seduce a televised meteorologist and convince them to say there will be rain coming on the news even if it isn’t true.

– Strike up a conversation with a plumber and ask them how the plumber the seven seas.

– Lick dishes of their food and dirt instead of rinsing with water.  You can also get a dog to do this.

– A recent study showed people care about water usage.  Ain’t that cool?

– Destroy all decorative fountains you see.  Especially ones that are not yours.

– Don’t wash your car ever.

– Pee in the shower.

– Pee outside.  Select a private space near a bush you don’t particularly like and go at it.

– Don’t let children maintain a swimming pool.  They suck at math.  It is dangerous because they might miscalculate how much water to put in the swimming pool and that would suck for when you were having sex in there.  There is also a higher chance of them seeing you since they are responsible for the swimming pool.

– Get your girlfriend wet everyday and then water the plants with her.

– Start using wet humor instead of dry humor.  Or in this case, drought humor.

– Kill anyone who is doing a rain dance in California, they are obviously failing and are probably making things worse with their awful dancing.  Then water the plants with their blood.  It rained after all!

– Grow some clouds and then explode them all over your plants.

– No more sex in the shower.  Or just have the water off if you have sex in there.

– Lick things clean, such as your car or yourself.

 

PixelJunk: Nom Nom Galaxy (PC) Review

Developer: Q-Games/Double Eleven | Publisher: Q-Games || Overall: 9.0/10

Walk the aisles of your normal, ideal, grocery store.  Rows full of food line the aisles begging for your grubby little hands to take them and put them in your shopping cart.  But does any food really speak to your soul as well as soup?  Canned soup is one of the most important pieces of human culture, after all.

…Yet have you ever really thought about where your soup comes from?

Do you perhaps think that the planet of Alteria in the galaxy of Soupcon Valley would produce your favorite can of Green Sun Chowder made from Sunblossom and Greenstalk?  Or do you think the civil war and strife of the robots on Nozesi fuel the good time tastes of the delightful Split Sea Soup and/or Filet of Fission?

PixelJunk: Nom Nom Galaxy makes you ask these questions and more.  Well, actually none of that matters because the name of the game is business and market share.  The real test comes in beating your enemy’s robot workers into eternal jobless poverty by creating an efficient soup factory that satisfies the needs of the universe.

Getting down to the essential basics of the game, the robots need soup and you are making the soup, delivering it to the hungry patrons via rockets.  Finding material that is usable for cooking across sprawling sandboxes, you are equipped with your buzzsaw which cuts through and helps you gather many of the things you’ll need.  You’ll also be punching a lot of things.  On the factory production side, you’ll have to maintain, defend, and build out a soup factory that is as efficient as possible.  Robot workers can be hired to assist you in this pursuit, and their operation is a small callback to the logic of Lemmings.  What this ends up being is an interesting mix of game genres in a sci-fi setting with some sparse story to set up the scenarios each planet presents.

What I mostly enjoyed about Nom Nom Galaxy is that it is a sandbox game with a clear objective at hand.  As far as the sandbox genre goes, Starbound is the only other game I’ve played with any large amount of time, which is built mostly on a free-form playstyle that centers on improving your crafting and character’s gear.  Nom Nom Galaxy distinguishes itself from this by giving you developer-designed planets full of ingredients to exploit to the best of your ability, earning upgrades after beating a planet.  The factory’s efficiency becomes a main focus of the gameplay as a result — which can be detrimental to the exploration aspect the game provides, as it essentially becomes the opposite of business efficiency.

As you make your way through the planets, each will provide an upgrade or new thing to buy to change up the gameplay a bit.  Eventually you hit a point, about midway through the game, where scenarios start to take place and you’re no longer able to use defense towers, robot workers, or other things you’ve grown accustom to using.   As the existing system can be a bit complex to learn and understand the controls/logic of the game, the pace is set about right.  Enhancements such as, and being able to use, a double jump or a rocket boost changes the way you play entirely.

Ingredients are varied and many have specialties about them.  There’s about 20 unique ingredients which can be combined with each other, resulting in 400 recipes.  Some ingredients are special and take a long time to find/grow, some you have to kill mobs for, and others are common and plantable.  It’s always fun to find something new in the game and seeing what will result when you combine two different ingredients can be satisfying.

When you combine ingredients, a Soup Can pops out of the Soup Machine.  You take the Soup Can into the Soup Rocket, and the rocket delivers the payload which affects your market share by a base of 5%.  Depending on the market trends that pop up every now and then, the game influences you to try and find different ingredients, or stop using one that might be a commonly used on in all of your Soup Machines, forcing you to change your focus.

A good 20 hours or so of gameplay got me within range of the last three stages of the “Conquest” mode.  Unfortunately Nom Nom Galaxy didn’t live up to the same perfection in its difficulty as PixelJunks Monsters did, and I had a relatively easy time getting through it as I mastered the game’s logic.  Half of the levels in the Conquest Mode are used to introduce you to the gameplay itself, and the latter half tests you to master it to only some unique challenge.  Each planet introduced something new, but the core gameplay being so complex brings down the experience a bit, I fear.  We spend too much time “learning how to play” that when we finally get around to unlocking everything substantial and playing “for realisies” you only have a couple of planets left and the last level of the game, which will require you to use everything at your disposal.

Each planet has the option for endless play, only after you attain 100% market share.  You are also able to continue building your factory as it was or start from scratch in this “S.O.O.P Simulator” mode.  While the planets will always be the same, they offer enough variety and quantity to not have to worry too much about that.  Though since there is no meta game, you are working on each planet on an individual basis.  There is also a mode called Galactic Challenges which take a unique approach to the games formula and pretty much anything seems to go here.  You could be racing from point A to point B or trying to sell as much soup in 10 minutes as you can.  Challenges expire after about 36 hours, and you compete against all other players here, either at the same time, or asynchronously via global rankings.  You can also “Quick Join” and matchmake with another player, however the capability did not seem to be enabled in the review build before release.  I assume there could be some sort of generation for planets in this mode but I can’t be sure.

A lot of the aspects of the baked-in challenge actually disincentivizes you from exploring.  You’ll be dealing with maintaining the workflow of the factory, depending on its need to rely on you to acquire/scout for ingredients.  You are also equipped with an Oxygen tank which limits the distance you can go without finding a source of oxygen or heading back to base.  You’ll also be called back to base when your rival sends monsters to disrupt and destroy your base.  You can automate the defenses a bit by loading it with laser guns and missiles, but you’ll still need to make sure you are there to pick up any of the stragglers and repair buildings.  If at any point your Office is destroyed, you automatically lose the game.

At the end of each day, the game pauses for “Break Time” and saves your current progress.  During Break Time you’ll be shown informative stats, graphs, and how much money you earned.  An added layer of planning is involved as any ingredients that are not currently inside Soup Machines or planted will disappear.  When planting items, it will expand your potential to increase your output substantially, but only if you plan correctly.  Personally I felt like it made the game a lot easier to have the capability to grow your own ingredients since you could plant a lot of the same common ingredients over and over in each level and usually the AI competitor would not match very well in a challenge as long as you had a good production going.  Progression to new zones is limited by recipes you discover, so there is an incentive to experiment, but not much since it was easy to meet those expectations and I never really had to replay anything unless I fucked up severely or neglected my base on purpose.

Sound and visuals is also another high point.  There is a lot of insanity going on initially.  It will take a while for you to understand what is going on, but the art is fantastic and intricate.  The robots are uniquely designed and I loved discovering something new, or going to the next planet to see the theme.  Sound is also well done for the most part, but there was a surprising lack of music.  PixelJunk Monsters and PixelJunk Eden had great soundtracks, but Nom Nom Galaxy seems to take its cues from PixelJunk Shooter with a minimalist approach to music and sound, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, just different.  Monsters is probably one of my favorite soundtracks ever, so it was a bit disappointing to not have another great soundtrack to listen to.

As a big fan of the PixelJunk series I was completely satisfied with this entry.  While it breaks the mold of “simplicity” all of the other games established within their own genres, Nom Nom Galaxy files down several different genres into core tenants that work together in an interesting fashion.  The game is very ambitious and I enjoyed the humor quite a bit.  Replayability might be Nom Nom Galaxy’s biggest fault, but there is certainly plenty to do and you can keep doing it for pretty much as long as you like.  There just becomes a point where you kind of “get it” and in this case I don’t see myself coming back to visit it very often like I do with PixelJunk Monsters.  It is, however, a lot easier to play the game for very long sessions.

 

Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire (iOS) Review

Developer/Publisher: Cervo Media GmbH || Overall: 8.0/10

Hardware Used: iPhone 5 with iOS 6

Reviewing sequels to games you enjoy tend to be a typical thing when you are a reviewer.  It’s easy to sit there and write out how everything in the sequel is the same, but better in so many ways, and even pull from your previous review for inspiration.  In this case, Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire is the sequel to a previously reviewed title, Slots – Pharaoh’s Way; it essentially boils down to this: it is a slots game that is a sequel to a slots game and it is still… a slots game.

In my previous review I went through the ethics and personal feelings I had with the business model this slots game (now series) presents itself with.  The structure is very much the same in Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire as it was in Slots – Pharaoh’s Way, and really all that you’ll initially see (if you are moving from the previous game to this) is that you are resetting back to zero.  Slots – Pharaoh’s Way is an endlessly-updated grind to the next slot, and Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire is not much different.  There’s no point, really, in talking about what is the same, but it’s an opportunity to talk about what IS different.

It is an interesting observation that many of the improvements I had suggested in my previous review seems to actually have come to pass — namely in more significant time-based rewards and an interesting meta game which rewards you as you play.

Free bonus credits are earned by increment of four hours as Slots – Pharaoh’s Way had done and still seem to scale higher as you progress — you also get a “special bonus” on every fourth redemption, which is a unique bonus game.  The “Money Rain” bonuses (credits you earn as a bonus to leveling up) that occur also scale higher along with your level.  Another vital, new, free bonus happens now in the form of a Return Bonus independent of your hourly bonus — if you visit every day your rewards slightly increase as each day goes on.

A meta game has been introduced in this title that revolves around collecting relic pieces, signified by a moving piece that represents your progress through leveling.  As you complete the relics you gain a large payout of credits.  Whereas before you would attain this payout at a certain increment of levels, the progression is “broken up” and given a visual representation to tell you that you are almost at the next milestone.  This is a welcome change as it gives the feeling of an adventure and collecting relic pieces to add to your overall collection — of which there are many relics to collect.  Your piece moves every 1/3 increment of a level and you gain a relic piece at every two levels.

Included with the meta game is also a bonus chance to earn credits within that meta game progression.  A chest moves every five turns (slot plays) within your progression path, and if it appears on top of your moving piece, you get into one of the bonus games unique to this chest.  One is a spinning wheel that lands on a number and the other I encountered was a “Risk to Double” game – you roll a number and risk it (to double it) by choosing heads/tails.  If you lose in the Risk to Double game, you get a consolation prize regardless, but it is usually going to be a paltry amount.  It is pretty much the same idea as the bonus card game that you get access to on regular slot wins.  The bonus card game is still essentially useless, and the same rules apply as in the previous game.  Because they are essentially the same game, I am lead to think that the Risk to Double just isn’t worth the risk.

There is more diversity in the initial few slots, and it is seemingly less reliant on the “Pharaoh’s” theme, unlike the first game.  The second slot level you are all of a sudden in the African safari with elephants and shit.  What happened to the God damn pyramids and whipping slaves?!  I want some more Anubis and King Tut shit before I start traveling all over the world.  Every 10 levels unlocks a new slot and this time around there are no numbers showing how many diamonds you earned so it’s not as easy to tell what your progress is other than a visual bar.  I assume that they’ve reigned in the required amount of diamonds to make it more linear rather than it’s exponential growth that occurred in the last game, but it isn’t easy to tell.

Buying credits still seems like something predatory, but there can be plenty in-game to at least make you feel like you are earning credits with the extra bonuses and the new meta game portion.  Where the ethics get involved here, is that the game has to feel rewarding to keep you hooked, but they can’t be too rewarding since they want to sell credits. It’s a very fine balancing act that appears to sometimes rig the bonus games to not be very rewarding all of the time. For example, a risk/reward game that stops between a large number and a small number will seemingly skew towards the small number more often than not. Even the “meta chest” game is privy to this, despite being essentially an added system for overall bonuses.  There are lots of added bonus games involved with the title, but none are overly rewarding, which takes a little bit of the excitement out of hitting one of them.

As someone who grinded quite a few million diamonds in the previous iteration, it feels a bit daunting to get into and start yet another slots game (with essentially the same progression system) from scratch.  Personally, it feels like there should either have been some sort of credit sharing between the two games, or Slots – Pharaoh’s Way upgraded with the additions they made for Slots – Pharaoh’s Fire.  Business-wise, I completely understand why you would want your players to experience a full reset — the grind is necessarily subject to becoming hooked as you gain levels with more regularity at the lower levels and hitting level 243 might not mean anything anymore.

There are some graphical enhancements (addition of more 3D graphics/animations is the biggest difference) and some sound “additions” that are a bit corny as some deep-voiced European-sounding dude (read: not Egyptian) is one(?) of the performers.  As always, I turned my sound off within ten minutes of booting up the game, so it didn’t matter to me.

Is the game good?  Sure.  It’s not any better or worse than the previous game, really.  A lot of the additions I proposed were actually included and its made the game a better package, however the intent of the game is to make money at the end of the day and they can’t go too crazy with the fun.  For the benefit of the series, it would be interesting to see a different progression system than grinding diamonds and levels to unlock more slots.  For a more in-depth look at all of the basic functions of the game, please check out my previous review as almost all of it is relevant for this game.

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Squacklecast Episode 27 – “How to Eat Grilled Cheese”

This entry is part 27 of 32 in the series The Squacklecast

Wow!  I don’t know who keeps making these Squacklecasts, but they keep getting made.

We talk about ABC Family’s Harry Potter marathon a bit and which ones we like overall.  Also we realize how we can’t remember what happens in which one or what they’re called.

Comic Con 2015 began and ended in a boring whimper considering Marvel was a no-show.  Trailers from the convention are at Wired.

The current status of Marvel and how Ant-Man is or is not their current “peak.”  Avengers 2 was basically Cameo: The Movie.  The X-Men properties are discussed.

We talk about the DC properties which were arguably the most interesting part of this year’s Comic Con.

Movies about movies that didn’t get made — Superman Lives and pre-Lynch Dune.

Will Smith is Deadshot in the new Suicide Squad movie.  Hopefully he’s more like Capt. James West from Wild Wild West:

willsmithwildwildwest

Dave was mostly into the Garfield/Calvin and Hobbes types of comics instead of the Marvel/DC stuff.

Since Garfield likes lasagna, that was a segue into talking about food and Grilled Cheese.  Billy doesn’t like Grilled Cheese because his only experience with it was eating it at a buffet.

Perfect Grilled Cheese on sourdough is as follows:

grilledcheese

Awful wheat grilled cheese is this awful awful thing:

awfulgrilledcheese

More random food talk about bacon and other things.

Davepoobond’s Hate List for Celebrities (5 is average rating)

FRED 10/10, Bono 10/10, Owen Wilson 9/10, Jackie Chan 6/10

Melissa McCarthy 10/10, Julia Roberts 9/10, Drew Barrymore 8/10, Geena Davis 7/10, Cher 4/10

Fuck you FRED.  See you guys next time!

 

Hacknet (PC) Hands-On Preview

Developer: Team Fractal Alligator | Publisher: Surprise Attack Games || Outlook: Good

Writing previews for games are a bit of a challenge.  Previews serve as a way to give the readers an introduction to a game they may anticipate, and hopeful readers look for positive impressions before they have access themselves.  I tend to typically give preview builds the benefit of the doubt and stay hopeful that the final product will potentially deliver.  In this case, Hacknet definitely holds an interesting and unique potential.

Hacknet simulates a hacking environment, not unlike something you may see in exaggerated form on a TV show.  Through a number of commands you’ll solve what is essentially multi-layered puzzles that will force you to master a routine while solving the unique mission at hand.  The preview build provided to me allowed for approximately 40 minutes of gameplay, which included a Tutorial, a “test mission,” and an actual mission.

The gameplay serves as a backdrop and a storytelling device to a mystery involving the death of a hacker named Bit.  The preview build didn’t delve too deeply into the actual meat of the story, but mostly just alludes to some of the characters you are potentially going to have more interaction with later.  The simulated hacking environment uses real UNIX commands, so if you have experience with command line actions you’ll be able to pick up on most of what is happening pretty quickly.  The forced memorization of commands has the potential to be daunting if you aren’t comfortable with that sort of interaction with a computer, however.  One of the highlights of the game is its lack of hand-holding, so it appears that you’ll need a notepad or a good memory to execute the time-based puzzles correctly.  Ideally, you’ll be learning most of the commands as you go along, so the puzzles will probably become more advanced and require greater care to execute perfectly.  Hacknet aligns itself with “Papers, Please,” challenging different parts of your brain than what you may normally be accustomed to for games.

What got me really digging the puzzles was the sleek/futuristic user interface coupled with the music.  The music was contextually designed and matched the mood of what was going on appropriately.  The music really played a key part in turning up the tension when the first hacking challenge took place.  They didn’t want to give too much away so the game abruptly turns off once you hit a certain point in the puzzle/mission.  As an aside, they included a functional clicker mini-game, which implies there are possibly other mini-games that might be added to create variety.

The preview build left me with a generally positive impression, and I’m looking forward to what the complete game will offer.  Hacknet will be $10 when it releases in August.

Information from the press release is as follows:

Hacknet is an immersive, terminal-based hacking simulator for PC. Dive down a rabbit hoIe as you follow the instructions of a recently deceased hacker, whose death may not have been the accident the media reports. Using old school command prompts and real hacking processes, you’ll solve the mystery with minimal hand-holding and a rich world full of secrets to explore.

Bit, a hacker responsible for creating the most invasive security system on the planet, is dead. When he fails to reconnect to his system for 14 days, his failsafe kicks in, sending instructions in automated emails to a lone user.  As that user, it’s up to you to unravel the mystery and ensure that Hacknet-OS doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.

Exploring the volatile nature of personal privacy, the prevalence of corporate greed, and the hidden powers of hackers on the internet, Hacknet delivers a true hacking simulation, while offering a support system that allows total beginners get a grasp of the real-world applications and commands found throughout the game.

Hacknet will launch on PC via Steam and the Humble Store on August 12, 2015.

 

Reveal Trailer:

 

A preview build of Hacknet was provided to Squackle.

 

Squacklecast Episode 26 – “Haters of the Boll”

This entry is part 26 of 32 in the series The Squacklecast

It’s another Squacklecast!  We talk about the following —

3 Big game announcements –

Fallout 4 Announced

XCOM 2 Announced

 

And also Heroes of the Storm released!  (I’ve been playing it a lot)

We talk about how games adapt to movies and how many of them don’t do what gamers actually want out of a movie.

I wanted an hour and a half of this to be the real Resident Evil movie:

Resident Evil’s character name list is quite hilarious.

We go into a little bit about Uwe Boll‘s filmmaking.

After that, a little bit of Warcraft, and then we talk about San Andreas in depth.

We go more into Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson‘s career, as well.

And then we talk about how comedies always want to make us depressed now.  The Benchwarmers wasn’t amazing, but at least it didn’t make you depressed.

We talk about davepoobond’s movie tastes and how one would chart them on a graph.  It would probably look like this:

daves-movie-tastes

The hate fills davepoobond for the last segment and he delves into who he dislikes generally, in particular Melissa McCarthy.

Next time we’ll go over a list of people he hates in full detail!

 

Chariot Wars (PC) Review

Developer/Publisher: OM Entertainment || Overall: 1/10

Hardware Used: Windows 8.1, i7, Nvidia GTX 780

When it comes to reviewing bad games, it’s always a hard decision to make. Do I make a tongue-in-cheek positive review, or perhaps a sharply sarcastic review full of jokes, or just a traditional opinion about the hopes and dreams that “Chariot Wars” completely and utterly destroyed? For this review I’m not quite sure what direction to go, because Chariot Wars just leaves me confused and maybe even a little sad when reflecting upon my time playing.

Considering the game is originally developed for mobile phones, the basic features are limited. You have only three modes of play to choose from: Multiplayer, Single Player Time Trial, and Single Player Story Mode, called Championship. Multiplayer requires you to register an account with the developer’s web site rather than using Steam. Single Player Time Trial is racing around one of the four possible unique tracks, alone, with no A.I. to race against.  Each track has two variations: Night and Day – all of which are unlocked only through the Championship Mode.   Time Trial is consistently pointed to by the “Game Tips” and even prompted as a gate before you enter the real “meat” of the game, which is the Championship Mode.

Here’s where things get… “interesting.” Chariot Wars’ Championship mode is a graphic novel murder mystery story with boring gameplay in between chapters. The story is by far the only redeeming factor this game has to offer and is actually quite hilarious and dark, in a campy way. The backdrop of Ancient Rome is used as the Captain of the Guard is called to investigate a double murder – one man crucified and a woman with her throat slit, holding a tattered symbol of the Cabal, which is a group of conspirators who assassinated Julius Caesar. The murdered man is related to Ben-Hur (we finally have our sequel to Ben-Hur, ya’ll!) and before researching much of anything about the murder, the current idiot Caesar thinks it would be a good idea for the lead investigator of a murder to stop doing that and to instead replace the dead guy in the chariot race — and that’s when you take control of your chariot and race.

After winning the race, Quintus Octavian, the protagonist of the story makes out with a hot chick with a very large rack in some random room and then with her help figures out what the symbol is from, and so on. I don’t necessarily want to explain every facet of the story here, but you are rewarded for your effort of winning races with these story interludes. It may take a few tries depending on how well you know the track and if you can catch up to the computer players, but you’ll eventually win each race… hopefully.  Besides, you don’t have much else to do.

The gameplay itself is very standard in its rules – just get first place and win after two laps. For some odd reason there are huge floating coins that give you temporary speed boosts that don’t really make you feel like you’re going faster. When using a speed boost, everything becomes blurry and it feels like you’re all of a sudden in a Michael Bay movie, not knowing what the hell is going on. Considering the boosts are supposed to be good, they sure as hell don’t make you want to use them other than hopefully never having to play through that race again. Wonky physics, bad collision, weird animation, and the lack of any “warring” with other players (though you can bump into them) just isn’t fun. The scenery is also very strange, considering chariot races were always in a coliseum. There are snow-covered mountains surrounding you everywhere (and curving with the sky, which is fucking weird), waterfalls, random mixed species of trees, a blinding light source as bright as a sun coming out of a mountain (while it rains), and other oddities. This alternate dimension doesn’t seem like a very nice place to spectate or even race, not that the game is meant to be an accurate representation of anything.

And that’s kind of the game.   The music is generic and there is a strange chime that rings every time you click one of the menu buttons.  There are a lot of weird translation things going on, which adds a certain “charm” to the game, and the incessant badgering to go to the Time Trial mode to learn how to play is almost hilarious since you can’t play any new tracks unless you unlock them through Championship Mode, which you only do by beating the track! The races get harder as you go on, but you have to wonder how the difficulty is really ramping up when your chariot likes to all of a sudden go out of control a lot more often on turns as you progress.  At least the game didn’t crash while I was playing it.  You can also make funny things happen when you boost into one of the invisible walls on the race track.  If you ever get stuck in the scenery of the game, the only solution is to restart the track from scratch.

You can choose from several racers, chariot colors, and horses (all of which you have to unlock through play) which may or may not have an influence on your racer – it is sort of hard to tell. Another point of contention is that it’s $25 on Steam. Considering the amount of content the game has to offer, you have to wonder what the hell is going on.

And so there’s not a whole lot to keep you going. Other than the graphic novel portions and the strangely long CG video that displays a full length chariot race (presumably what you’d be “experiencing” while playing) full of random characters you probably don’t even play, you aren’t going to want to touch this game.

A reviewable copy of Chariot Wars was provided to Squackle.

 

Letter to Scott the Naturalist

I wrote this as a “thank you” note to Scott, who was a Naturalist at a school camp I was forced to go to in 6th grade.

March 16, 1998

Dear Scott,

My name is davepoobond, and I was in your group (duh, I wouldn’t be writing to you then). My favorite activities were eating and sleeping.

One special thing I learned was to never ever climb up a mountain more than 3 inches tall. I learned this from OUCHY-OUCHY Mountain and going up the “Check This Out” trail. It should’ve had a big sign that said, “ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE!!!!!” and it should’ve been called, “ The Freaky Trail from HECK!!!!!”

Sincerely,
davepoobond