Welcome to the North, where we will outlive you because… Winter.

Winter in The North, in case you come from a place where all the seasons aren’t properly represented, is about five months of cold and dark. Temperatures below freezing are not uncommon. Snow covering all surfaces for weeks at a time is likely.
Because winter mostly sucks and the most common coping mechanism is to hide from it. As soon as the first weather report of the winter season comes in, everyone rushes to the supermarket to buy canned and other non-perishable goods. Stocking up on other supplies makes sense too. It’s going to be cold and crappy out for a while after the first storm so no one wants to have to leave the house for toilet paper or dog food. Continue reading “Welcome to the North, where we will outlive you because… Winter.”

Netflix's 'The Punisher'

The new Punisher series picks up a little while after the end of Daredevil season 2.

Frank Castle hunts down the last of the Hell’s Kitchen gang members who thought they escaped his violent cleansing. Satisfied with his work as a well-armed reward for bad behavior being done, Frank redubs himself, Pete Castiglione.
Pete is a very quiet, very focused construction worker. He has to be because every time he lets his mind wander even slightly he’s confronted with the memory of his family being murdered. These flashbacks aren’t annoying in the way that flashbacks typically are. Instead of filling in holes in storytelling or character development, these really build up the character’s development and add dimension to the story. The flashbacks are, in a way, an additional character. They are the Frank the audience never got to meet and the Frank The Punisher never got to be. Continue reading “Netflix's 'The Punisher'”

How'd you even get here? Our Google Questions Answered.

Today I answer the important questions brought to us by our Google search results…

…everything from surviving an apocalypse to styling yourself to look like you survived an apocalypse. Continue reading “How'd you even get here? Our Google Questions Answered.”

PAX East 2014 | Organic Panic


1978876_224701924385529_1851087260_nOrganic Panic
is a  puzzle-platformer about a Protein vs Produce apocalypse. Technically the protein (Meats and Cheeses) have already won and the Produce are living in fear while they’re hunted for sport.

LastLimb, created by brother David and Anatole Branch, funded Organic Panic through a kickstarter campaign and got greenlit on Steam Greenlight. Obviously this game makes a good impression.

But what was it like to play Organic Panic in real life?

Kae and I played Organic Panic at PAX East and got a copy of the comic which details the story. We used XBox 360 controllers on a PC build.983632_226653834190338_414048056255896916_n

  • Single player was fun and reminiscent of old-school platformers like Sonic The Hedgehog or Donkey Kong with a bit of a Super Meatboy twist.
  • Each character has special abilities (fueled by collecting magic stars) like the ability to shoot whatever material they’re in contact with, throw water, set things on fire, and telekinesis.1010122_224401007748954_746872795_n
  • Each ability comes out in the comic (Produce is magical and Protein is technological, duh), which explains how the Protein took over, what the Produce plans t do about it, and why there are all these portals around.
  • The levels weren’t exactly continuous stories (at least not what we played) as much as they were action based puzzles — which is totally normal for levels on platformers. Each level started with a different character so you couldn’t really choose your favorite and stick with it. The cherry with it’s shooting ability was really fun. But if you can only be one character per level, it means the characters aren’t all equal on all the levels. However, it makes sense if you read the comic and know that the old Apple is sending the fruits on missions through portals to support his master plan.1975125_224032251119163_885536456_n
  • In multiplayer, we were each given a character that had to work with the the other to solve our way to the door (end of the level).
  • Multiplayer levels were more like single-screen puzzles with each fruit on one side and the objective door some where visible but out of reach.10014643_225249220997466_1604416436_n
  • Playing with a friend in this way was fun and frustrating. If one player dies, you reset. And boy did we die a lot. You have to talk it out and point and shout and try and fail and finally, victory fist pump when you win.

Organic Panic was a fresh take on cute and campy platformers and post-apocalyptic resistance. It felt both familiar and unique with a solid psychics build and “fleshed out” characters. The game was easy enough to pick up and play though there were some place where you could run out of mana and then you were just stuck and had to restart the level. They’re short levels so it wasn’t a big deal.
Keep an eye out on Steam, because it’s coming soon.

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First Impressions: MARS: War Logs

[wpspoiler name=”First Impressions vs. Reviews” ]First Impressions are based on demos while Reviews are based on entire games.[/wpspoiler]
MARS: War Logs is set in the war-torn, waterless future of Mars. Surprise, you colonized Mars and its supply of one gallon of water didn’t last to sustain a whole planet full of people.
According to the Purple Prose introduction narrated by the most pathetic grunt in the Water War, there’s a war on and there are Water Gangs fighting for control and—I don’t think there’s a society anymore. I think this is like post-apocalyptic anarchy on a colonized planet. Deep.
Well, our grunt is in a truck with other folks heading to elsewhere. Apparently he’s been captured and is a POW (prisoner of war) being shipped off to the enemy camp.
(Keep in mind, all this is being told through Purple Prose and cinematics. Try as you might, you don’t get to play in the train, in the loading bay, in the gen pop area… No playing for you.)

Innocence in a box
Innocence in a box – That’s him in the corner. That’s him in the spotlight.

Finally this sad little lad with the emotionless reading voice telling me of all the horrors of war arrives at the enemy base. Yay, I get to play! PSYCH!
The kid’s introduction to the POW is a foul-mouthed gang of other POWs who wish to make passionate love to his butthole. The portly gang leader is Fatso. Literally, his name is Fatso.
Our idealistic little runt fearing for his rear-virginity? His name is *Le Sigh* Innocence. Yes, his name is Innocence.  Take a minute to eye-roll and regroup.
So Innocence is all, “But I don’t want to be but-raped.” And Fatso is all like, “But I’m a villain and this is prison and you’re new so… Dibs!”
(You still not playing the game yet.)
So then this dude comes up and stands at the edge of the argument with his arms folded and I’m like, “YES! Finally I get to play, I’m gonna brawl this Fatso!”
NOOOOPE.
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “Whadda you want?”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “This doesn’t concern you.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “The Boy is Mine.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “You’re Crazy!”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “Let’s get out of here guys, this guy’s crazy.”
Dude stands there with his arms folded and his eyes narrowed. And Fatso is like, “This isn’t over.”
WHAT THE FUCK!? (Pause for head shaking and or eye rolling.)
Okay, so whatever, you finally get to play now. Now that nothing is happening, you get to play.
And by play I mean you talk to Innocence and decide if you want to be a hard ass or a nice guy (your reputation matters). Apparently Innocence is just an introduction and Roy is our main character. He’s like, “I’m Roy.” And Innocence is like, “Ohmigawd, ROY? The Roy?”
Roy, local badass and side burn aficionado
Roy, local badass and side burn aficionado

Roy’s like, “Yeah, The Roy.”
So by now it’s very clear that the writing is not good and the voice acting ranges from cringe-inducing to pretty good. However, since I only started actually playing the game a minute ago, I powered on.
Uh oh, Fatso and his gang are waiting for Roy and Innocence in the courtyard ready to pin down Little Buddy and slip it in the back. (There’s a lot of swearing and Fatso is really keen on rape).
Tutorial fight time! I like tutorial fight time. I get to play the game and beat up bullies. X to hit. RT to distract them. A to break their defenses.
Cool got it. Let’s punch more people!
Nope. Time to sit and chat with Innocence. Go hither and fro. Chat with dudes.
Okay, this is an RPG so you’re not going to just side-scroll style fight through the world until you hit a boss. Roy is running around (with Innocence in tow) exploring the base with a surprising level of freedom for a POW.
Mutants are sad
Mutants are like people only mutated and sad. And oddly spiritual.

They fight a few other prisoners and a beast and meet the mutants. The story and the game really start to take off. The dialogue stays horrible but the story is fascinating. In this war-torn world, there are people called Technomancers who control electricity, underground monsters called Moles that make it really hard to dig for water, and possibly mysterious ruins from the colonists who first settled on Mars.

Developer(s) Spiders
Publisher(s) Focus Home Interactive
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox Live Arcade, PlayStation Network
Release date(s) Windows
April 26, 2013
XBLA
July 26, 2013
PSN
August 13, 2013
Genre(s) Action role-playing
Mode(s) Single-player

Mars: War Logs Pros:

A mysterious technomancer
Mysterious technomancer is mysterious.

1. The story is interesting a possibly unique. With all the hokey dialogue and waiting around, the story is what kept me around.
2. Innocence fights with you instead of acting as another obstacle to keep track of. He doesn’t finish any off on his own but he’s definitely more partner than package.
3. The game world is large and the menus are extensive creating  a deep and interesting experience for just $9.99.
Mars: War Logs Cons:
I assume this is a boss.
I assume this is a boss.

1. Holy shit the dialogue is bad. It’s outright laughable at some points and not helped by the fact that a lot of the voice acting is sub-par.
2. Can I say the fact that it’s not a book is a con? I truly like the story but didn’t feel like I was a necessary part of it. Maybe that’s because it was a demo so it was just a teaser of what’s to come. I just didn’t feel moved so much as curious.
3. The demo felt long. If a game is truly engaging it should steal hours of your time and have you looking around in surprise because you didn’t realize how immersed you were. Mars: War logs felt like it was taking too long. I wasn’t pushing forward but trudging. I found myself annoyed when I accidentally retraced y steps because UGH I just want something interesting to happen.
Overall, what I think of Mars: War Logs:
Moles are not your friends. But if they were you wouldn't dig through their home and then murder them indiscriminately...
Moles are not your friends. But then again, if they were you wouldn’t dig through their home and then murder them indiscriminately…

During a time where games aren’t launching and tax season may or may not leave you broke, Mars: War Logs is definitely something to look into. It seems like it will provide hours of entertainment with an interesting story.
I realize I’ve mocked it relentlessly but that’s because the game does manage to stumble into a writing trap where things are described too beautifully or characters aren’t dimensional enough. Paired with the voice acting, that would be fine for reading aloud in class, it gets a bit laughable.
The silliness though, doesn’t detract from what is a pretty solid game with decent graphics and a large, interactive world. There are side missions, craftable weapons, upgrade trees and a lot more. For $9.99!
Try the demo and see if you can live with the writing and reading.

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