Thursday, 26 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Tiberian Sun

Earth 2030 is unrecognizable but war... war remains the same.

Continuing from the original game where Kane died but got better, GDI now kitted out with mechs instead of tanks, continue to oppose the Brotherhood of Nod who have upgraded their sneakiness to subterranean units. Tiberium is now wide spread and actual mutants also run rampant. They are handy as infantry though, since standing in Tiberium heals them while it still kills normal foot soldiers.


A little more and it might become Mech Warrior.

The live action cut scenes are at their finest here with a more serious tone to them, starring James Earl Jones and Michael Beihn as the leaders of GDI (who I played). Also the mission map is present here which is a big plus. The game play itself is fine though some build times were on the long side.

The Firestorm expansion continues the story with cyborgs and the Tiberium threat but honestly, its just more of the same - minus the high production cut scenes and minus the mission selection. Needless to say I didn't finish it. I give Tiberian Sun 4 veinholes out of 5. That's excluding Firestorm which would honestly only lower the score.

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Grimm Fringe

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Grimm (Finished)

Policeman Nick Burkhardt is a cop, but also has the bloodline of a supernatural hunter (aka. Grimm) who can see Wessen (various types of lycanthropes).  Apparently, Portland is crawling with Wessen as every single case involves them somehow. They do come in numerous forms though, and are decently done CGI wise. Also the lore books in the show have some really nice art. The plot does suffer from repetition fatigue though and very slow character growth. Eventually we were just watching for the side characters Monroe (Silas Weir Mitchell) and Rosalee (Bree Turner). :P

Looks like we have another fan!

Fringe (Finished)

At a glance, this show is about a division of the FBI investigating cases involving Fringe Science and near impossibilities. To accomplish said task they need the mad scientist Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) and he is amazing. Everyone else is good too, don't get me wrong, but Walter is just that one level up and makes every scene he is in fantastic. Plot wise, the case per week method quickly falls into a really epic story and is a must watch in my book. I highly, highly recommend this one.

Ah Walter, there's nothing he can't solve with some LSD.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Red Alert 2

This time with crazier technologies!

Having lost the first war, the Russians have come back now with a vengeance and their secret weapon: a mind controlling wizard named Yuri. It's great to see the cut scene acting and prop department got a boost, with for Kari Wuhrer as Tanya and Ray Wise as the US President. There's definitely a more comedic spin than last time too.

Airship bombers are just one of the WTF moments.

While the selective progression map is still absent from this game and combat seems very fast-forwarded animation wise, it is quite a fun experience to play through (I played as the Allies again). The big change from its predecessor is that infantry can garrison buildings (like in Generals) - making them quite useful in certain situations.

The short campaign in the Yuri's Revenge expansion ups the difficulty somewhat, but I still played through all of it mainly because it still had live action cut scenes. Have to admit, I'm a big fan of those now. Thanks to all the above and the faster build times (less player idling), Red Alert 2 gets 4 clones out of 5 and my recommendation to any RTS enthusiasts who haven't yet played it.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Chuck the Lost Black Orphan Girl

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Chuck (Finished)

When the titular regular nerd played by Zachary Levi "downloads" a ton of classified intel directly into his brain, he is thrown into the world of espionage, danger, and humorous shenanigans! This action comedy is one of my wife's favorites, with her staying up in the wee hours of the morning probably because of the underlying romance story. Lots of laughs and some lessons to be found, and might be worth a watch it you haven't seen it.

Stopping bombs with porn. It's great!

Lost Girl (Finished)

Proving that sex sells, this 5 season show is about a bi-sexual succubus who is looking for her place in the world. As expected, many other mythological creatures are present here too (most of whom are shagged by the main character), often just in "human form" to save the already lacking CGI budget.

Plot wise this one starts well, then sort of gets lost itself with many characters having severe lapses of judgement, and culminates with a ridiculous final showdown. One of the worst ones in my memory anyway. Still, Anna Silk (the succubus Bo) is easy on the eyes but my favorite is easily Kenzie - seemingly the only human around. Not really one I'd recommend though...

You said it Kenzie!

Orphan Black (Finished)

A show about clones, most of whom are played by the very talented Tatiana Maslany who manages to make each of them different. Following the unraveling mystery of how and why the clones came to be and how they interact with each other is great. Consistent is how I'd describe it. Never bad, but also never making it to my favorites list. If you haven't seen it, just watch the first episode - you should be able to tell from there if it is for you. If you prefer it with a Japanese twist, there's a remake called Orphan Black: 7 Genes - haven't seen that one myself though.

One actress, many personalities.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Oxenfree

A horror mystery involving meddling kids, but no Scooby.

When a bunch of teens go to an island and encounter the supernatural, all sorts of crazy things happen... In this game it's talking. A lot of talking. Yes, you will still walk around the map with nice, stylized graphics but there's rarely a gap of 10 seconds silence in this game - and that's a good thing.

Beware of triangles.

You will have to be quick with the mouse to select one of the many speak bubble prompts (or not) which can change how events play out. Fortunately the voice actors do a great job as they (and the script writers) are the highlight. It also seems designed to be replayed but I didn't care to go through the whole thing again despite the short length.

Still it's a fun distraction that I give 2.5 radios out of 5.

Saturday, 21 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: The Black Sails of Spartacus

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Spartacus (Finished)

A modern take on an old tale, this complete story of Spartacus' slave rebellion is one I truly enjoy as it features gratuitous gore and nudity combined with good action pieces and decent acting. Despite changing the lead actor midway through (due to death) it is still a very entertaining watch. John Hannah's Batiatus especially gets the two thumbs up for the seasons he is in. If you haven't seen this one then I highly recommend watching it, provided you can take the graphic content.

The show is this much better when he's in it.

Black Sails (Finished)

This prequel to Treasure Island was made by the same folks who produced Spartacus, so the same level of violence and filth is present here (though the filth is more dirty, rather than sweaty/oily). The story mainly follows how Captain Flint and Long John Silver came to be, and it is mesmerizing to watch. The props team also definitely outdoes themselves here. If you liked Spartacus, then you will probably enjoy this too.

Pirates ahoy! Hard to pick favorites when they're all good.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Ban those Lockboxes II

Now the enemy starts to pay for their sins!

[Part of the Design Folder.]

An update from last time, I am overjoyed to hear the news that game companies are starting to pay the price for using loot boxes. Heavily, in Nexon's case. I hope this momentum continues and sweeps across to the West to force devs to make actual content instead of cheap gambling alternatives.

Anything that someone pays for that only gives that person (and only that person/small group of people) a chance to get something is shit. I don't care if its a box, or a key to access an instance or monster that has a chance to drop something. If its not available to people who don't purchase "the extra doohickey", it is WRONG. In a game, everyone should have an equal chance. Always. Regardless of real life stature.

The real life loot crates are equally stupid and hopefully are banned just as hard one day. You want a shirt? Buy a shirt - the exact one you want. Don't buy a box that might contain a shirt that may or may not even fit you. What's next? Mystery pizza?

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Defiant Zoo Strain

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Zoo (Cancelled)

A global epidemic is mutating animals and giving them a penchant for killing people, so it's up to the most unlikely group (or just Billy Burke's Mitch Morgan sometimes) to save the world! While the effects are passable, the plot can get downright silly at times, but at least it's mostly fun. Alas the characters often make stupid decisions which is probably why this didn't make it past Season 3.

He's the hero the show needs.

Defiance (Finished)

Set in a future where a collection of aliens have come to Earth, this show focuses on a father and his adopted alien daughter finding their place in the city of Defiance which is home to all species and as such is open to all forms of trouble. Despite the setting, the show has meanders a bit at the start but it definitely improves as more alien culture is explained. Tony Curran's Datak Tarr and his wife Stahma, played by Jaime Murray, are stand outs for me here. The show also has a proper conclusion / ending, which is a good change from all the previous shows I've written about!

The best Castithans around.

The Strain (Finished)

This four season horror series is a tale of an ancient vampire's attempt at world domination, and is a good take on vampirism vs science, since the vampirism here is treated like an infection by Corey Stoll's CDC character Dr. Goodweather. There is a decent amount of action here, and some curious cases of plot armor. While I like most of the characters in the narrative, Richard Sammel's Eichhorst is by far my favourite and more than makes up for the very weak character/child actor of Goodweather's son. Definitely worth a watch.

In some ways more effective than the master.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Command and Conquer: Generals

Many steps forward, but just as many steps back.

Set in a period after the Russian menace but before the Tiberium future, this game and its expansion Zero Hour follows the very short campaigns of China, GLA (Terrorists) and the USA (who I played). So short that I actually played through -all- of the expansion missions as well this time.

While I appreciate the diverse units of each side and got the opportunity to "sample" China and GLA unit tree as "allies" during the USA campaign, I did find that it was on the easier side. Maybe my once woeful RTS skill is actually improving, but I have a feeling it's the in game "level up" perks that are very helpful.

Isometria ahoy!

As your units kill enemies and gain veteran ranks themselves (which makes them more useful), you also gain useful unlocks to stronger units or cool down abilities such as air drops and air strikes (for USA anyway). The voice acting is decent too, but the lack of having the mid mission live-action videos and a progression map really subtracts from the game, despite the in-game cut scenes.

Also, while everything is 3D modeled now, the result is they are actually worse than the sprites of its predecessors. All up I give this one 2 stars out of 5.

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Seeker of Shannara, the Carter Chronicles

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Agent Carter (Cancelled)

AKA. The adventures of Captain America's girlfriend, this was a strange one to get into. Hayley Atwell did a good job portraying Peggy, but the episodes were very hit and miss for me. It was in the "not that bad" category when it got cancelled, and I think the events in Captain America: Winter Soldier nailed the coffin so to speak. A show for completionists, but not one I would recommend to anyone else.

Showing the proper way to deal with Hydra Nazis.

Legend of the Seeker (Cancelled)

Based off the Sword of Truth books, this series did the cardinal sin of going in a completely different direction. Sure, it can work if you veer off into tangents but not that far off the rails. I still found it interesting, and quite enjoyed Bridget Regan's Kahlan, Tabrett Bethell's Cara and Bruce Spence's Zedd - reason enough for me to want a 3rd season. They also had cool costumes, decent fight choreography and all that slow motion running. I can still picture it in my head. :P

Don't let this woman touch you.

The Shannara Chronicles (Cancelled)

Another fantasy story based on books, this one set interestingly on a future Earth. The story is decent, travels better than Legend of the Seeker and isn't shy in killing characters, while the sets and effects are good but not as good as Seeker. It also does suffer a little in pacing and in the acting department for the main cast outside Allanon (because Manu Bennet is awesome). It's a tough call for me to decide if it's better than Seeker, so I'll leave it up to you to watch both and decide for yourselves.

Post apocalyptic sword and sorcery.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Firefly - Above and Beyond

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Space: Above and Beyond  (Cancelled)

Focused on a war against aliens, this series follows the Wild Cards (squadron) formation and numerous deployments over the course of the season. Despite the name, half the episodes were planet / interior based which is a good way to save CGI, though the sets could have been better too. I guess the Earth forces were running low on troops given their fighter pilots often needed to do "boots on the ground" missions.

Guys, did anyone remember the guns?

I suppose it left itself with nowhere to go at the end as *spoiler the aliens were surrendering spoiler*. It still has one of the most memorable endings that I've seen though. Come get some!

Firefly (Cancelled)


A space show which followed Captain Malcolm Reynolds and his motley crew just trying to make a buck. Despite a good script, entertaining characters, and unsolved mysteries this show ended rather abruptly (on a regular episode) which is a damn shame. Fortunately the crew managed to get together for one last ride in the movie: Serenity.

Revolvers and shotguns are still useful in the future!

Saturday, 14 April 2018

Grim Fandango (Remastered)

Dark humor with a Mexican flair in a cute (but difficult) package.

Stuck in a dead end travel agent job, Manny finds something amiss in the land of the dead and soon is on a quest to make it right. This point and click adventure has a lot going for it: stunning backdrops, a super easy point and click interface, awesome voice acting and script, a decent plot and cute and memorable characters - which is amazing given everyone is a skeleton (or a demon).

There is decent music too.

It does lack the subtitle option, but more problematic are some of the puzzles. More than once did I need to look for online hints on how to proceed, and the reason was usually because I had to use an item on a non-active part of the background. The signpost in the forest is a good example: You can pick it up and put it down anywhere - but you need to put it down in exactly the right spot to trigger a cut scene to proceed.

If only it didn't have such frustrating segments like that - I'd give it a better score. As it is I give it 3 scythes out of 5. I do recommend it though as it is a very enjoyable ride, and if you can get through without use of tips then all the more power to you!

Friday, 13 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Forever Hornblower

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

Forever (Cancelled)

A show about an ageless immortal. Ioan Gruffudd stars as a morgue based medical examiner who is trying to study his ability while hiding it from everyone else. Decent premise, decent execution, but even I wasn't sure where they could go after its one and only season without turning into Highlander.

Wouldn't this be easier with a sword?


Hornblower (Mini Series - Cancelled)

Another show featuring Ioan Gruffudd as Royal Navy Officer Horatio Hornblower, and one made with fantastic care, writing, and cinematography. Hornblower is one of my favorite mini-series with each episode being almost movie length. If you haven't seen them yet, I highly encourage you to give them a try. As they are quite dated, they can be found on Youtube now.

I prefer a pistol.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Command & Conquer: Red Alert

Without Hitler there is Stalin.

This refined version of the original takes a step back from the Tiberium future and sees Russia fighting the Allies (who I played to victory - as before I only play 1 side). Just the ore trucks (which collect gems and ore for funding) are a good example - as they dump their load into the refinery in under 3 seconds as opposed to the harvesters that used a straw.

Keep walking Hitler, you aren't in this game.

It's also interesting that the Allies get the "light" units this time around while Russia gets the "heavies", an inversion of the GDI/Nod arsenal from the first game. Along with some indoor maps there are also new units, most of which are good or mandatory thanks to having water now on the map - the rest are very situational. The engineer rush tactic is also gone here as are the commandos who are replaced by the uber-hero unit: Tanya. It's worth mentioning that I've killed more dogs in this game than any other.

The quality of the video cut scenes has also improved, and the best part is they fixed my complaint from the first game where you need to hunt everything down. Here at some point, the AI just "surrenders" and sends everything your way. Not as good as an immediate "you win" but good enough.

I cherry picked through the expansions and found that Counterstrike, while having missions come in small 2-3 set bundles for story purposes was still just more of the same just with full tech trees unlocked on both sides (which only happens in the last mission of the regular campaign).

Aftermath was more fun for me (at least for Allies), as there are more zero-construction missions. It also adds more ridiculous units though - like a nuke truck. It's exactly what it sounds like. There's no launcher either, it's a suicide unit. Good times! All up, Red Alert is a big step forward from the original and I give it 3.5 Tesla coils out of 5.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Constantine's Redemption

A continuation of my old TV show reviews.

The Blacklist: Redemption (Cancelled)

I quite like the Blacklist, even more so these days since a particular character is less irksome than previously. Unfortunately this spin off stuck too close to the original formula to be engaging which is a shame. Especially since what makes the original formula work is James Spader. Not much of a loss for me, and not one I'd recommend unless you are a completionist. Watch the original Blacklist though (which is still going), that one is good fun.

Doesn't match up to the original.

Constantine (Cancelled)

Matt Ryan makes a fantastic Constantine (no offense to Keanu's movie version) and is very watchable in his 13 episode series which follows a monster of the week format. Just as the main threat begins to appear the series got cancelled, possibly due to lack of marketing. Luckily the character and the actor have since been imported to Arrow for one episode and now has a recurring role in Legends of Tomorrow.

Resurrected from development hell!

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Old TV Reviews: Conan the Wiedzmin

Thanks to my Strong Girl Bong-soon post, I've decided to do a short set of TV show reviews within the following rules: It must be finished and I must have watched (and mostly remember) all the episodes. As you might have guessed, I'm going to amuse myself by combining some titles too. :P

Conan the Adventurer (Ended)

Ralf Moeller's Conan is quite different to the Arnie version. Despite his attire, Conan is more knight than barbarian, is more verbose, enjoys traveling in a party, and is much less grim. Unfortunately the acting is bad, the plot is regularly laughable as is the comedy relief main villain, and there are some filler scenes that just didn't need to be there at all. One episode had at least 5 minutes of a man running. Yep. Not a chase scene or anything, just running. At least there is occasional eye candy! Not one I can recommend, nor one that needed a second season.

Mostly fighters in this party.

Wiedzmin (Polish - Ended)

This is the story of Geralt of Rivia, and takes many plot points from the popular "Witcher" books. Despite the low budget props, CGI and cinematography, as well as some questionable subtitling in the version I watched, this series was very entertaining and Michal Zebrowski is a decent Geralt. We quite liked Jaskier (Dandelion) too! Each episode was almost stand alone, with a focus on dialogue peppered with some decent action. I would have loved a Season 2 for this one. For now I just hold out hope that the planned Netflix version will be just as good, if not better.

Some Ciri would be great too.

Friday, 6 April 2018

Strong Girl Bong-soon

A surprisingly enjoyable show!

I'd never thought I'd blog about a TV show, much less a Korean Romantic Comedy but here we are. At it's heart, despite being about a girl who is desperately trying to hide her super strength from the world, this show is definitely a romance with many minutes spent on gazing. Yes you heard that right. She looks at him, he looks at her. Sometimes, it's even in slow motion. There are also many obvious sponsor shots and blurred out tags post production and some of the humor is very stupid.

Yet despite all of that, this 16 episode series got us hooked easily with the catchy music, great casting (Park Bo-young is  a very cute protagonist), good plot (though episode 10 drags a little) and high quality production. There's also a surprising amount of eating in each episode, each of which are over an hour long.

She doesn't need a super hero outfit.

Best of all, there's a decent villain who keeps things interesting which was a very good surprise given theme of the show. I give this 4 noodles out of 5 and can easily recommend it to anyone who likes rom-coms or simply want to try something different, as long as you keep the expectation that this is a drama rather than an action show.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Justice League

DC still has a hard time catching Marvel.

When a cookie cutter bad guy with no depth suddenly appears to collect dangerous artifacts it's up to Batman and Wonder Woman to assemble a small team of superheroes to save the day. The effects are great, the funny bits work well and bonus points for the music which incorporates bits of recognizable themes.

It's like Aquaman was an after thought. As usual.

Alas, there are more than a few plot holes here and while I get why this needs to be an ensemble team, some could have just been cameos rather than main parts. All up it's a decent enough action flick, but I feel it could have been better / done more with what they had and leaves an odd sensation that the entire movie was "filler", which it shouldn't be. For that I give it 3 parademons out of 5 and am not so keen on watching it again.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

April 2018 Status

Oh boy, lots of reds on the list this time around.

    Complete web comic chapter 1 (procrastinating)
    Finish board game prototype Game 19 (procrastinating)
    End the year with less weight (+1.3 kg from last month, running total:  -0.2 kg)
    Finish the Direbug Saga (done)
    Clear 20 games from my back log (21/20)
    Draw 12 drawings of anything (0/12 procrastinating)
    Learn 5 more songs (6/5 done on the previous list, skipped Raimei)
    Complete NWO: Lost City of Omu (0/2)
    +Make a simple computer game? (good luck)

And the backlog Update:

FROM GIFTS
Sims 3
Loki
Overlord 2
Commandos: Men of Courage
C&C (DONE)
C&C: Covert Ops (More of same, skipped)
C&C Red Alert
C&C Red Alert: Counterstrike
C&C Red Alert: The Aftermath
C&C Tiberian Sun
C&C Tiberian Sun: Firestorm
C&C Red Alert 2
C&C Red Alert 2: Yuri's Revenge
C&C Generals
C&C Generals: Zero-Hour
Titan Quest (doesn't run)
GTA3 (doesn't run)
Supreme Commander
World in Conflict (constant crashing)
FEAR Perseus Mandate (DONE)
Warcraft: Orcs and Humans (doesn't run)
Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne  (requires WC3 to run)
Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos (doesn't run)
Dawn of War II
Universe at War
Spore (DONE)
Sins of a Solar Empire
Diablo: Reaper of Souls
Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty
Black and White 2 (doesn't run, windows incompatibility)
+Act of War (doesn't run)
+Rise of Legends (bad CD)

GOG FREEBIE PILEUP
The King of Fighters 2002 (DONE)
OxenFree
Grim Fandango Remastered
Beneath a Steel Sky (DONE)
Tyrian 2000  (DONE)
Dragonsphere (DONE)
Ultima 4: Quest of the Avatar (NO: Bad controls/Graphics)
Treasure Adventure Game  (DONE)
Warsow (doesn't run)
Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire

COMPY CAN'T RUN (but I want to play)
Batman: Arkham Knight
Dying Light
Alien Isolation
Shadow of Mordor
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice


This is what happens when I focus on back log clearing, and at the moment I'm still slowly chipping away at Red Alert and Supreme Commander, along with NWO: Omu of course. Some of the games cleared were also not "completed", and more towards "didn't work upon installation". The joys of old CDs eh? I also just said "No" to Ultima IV as I just can't get over the stick figure graphics. Looks like I'm getting picky!

Behold, the ultimate battle versus Lord British!

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Scanners

The ones before Professor X.

While the lack luster title doesn't really allude to much, this old movie is actually a story about telepaths and relies a lot on the acting, regularly reused props and deafening, off setting sounds to tell the story.

This is a particularly memorable scene.

There's no CGI here, but the special effects are fun when they happen (and gory... ultra gory). Despite a few question marks in the plot, it's an entertaining enough tale and a nice reminder of how things were done.

Alas the main character is a bit drab, but a young Michael Ironside and an elderly Patrick McGoohan make it very watchable. If you are in the mood for something a bit different, old fashioned, with just a tad of horror, this one might be worth a peek. I give it 2 security cameras out of 5.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Lethal League

A fantastic take of a fighting game.

Firstly, I must give thanks to Wrothak who got me a key to this for free because it is hands down one of the most enjoyable and most addictive "fighting" games I have ever played. Think King of Fighters, but instead of martial arts you fight using an anti-gravity ball that gets faster and faster.

Each match can host two to four players (or AI) and you are free to assign teams or just go free for all. Yes, you can have cooperative matches! For solo players there is also a 10 stage challenge mode. I'm currently stuck at stage 5. Fricking Candy Man (who happens to also be my fav character).

When it goes fast enough, the ball looks more like a laser.

The BEST part is that getting hit by the ball is an instant KO. If only one team remains standing, then the stage is reset and play resumes until all opponents have used up all their "lives". This is so refreshing coming from games where you just attack attack attack and slowly whittle down an enemies HP.

The controls are simple, the music is groovy, the art is good, and the game is fun. Sure there are few characters and no real story but this one is definitely worth a try. As I'm not yet done with it, I currently give Lethal League 3.5 home runs out of 5.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Neverwinter Online: The Lost City of Omu

Apparently less dinos = more fun.

The Omu ruins is a pretty good Chult map after Soshenstar, especially since there are far less dinosaurs waiting to pounce on you from annoying aggro ranges. Their replacements, the normal aggro range gorillas, aren't so bad provided you know how to side step.

King Kong makes a cameo.

Also great is the Undercity with its short cuts and shrines. It's a fun though claustrophobic place to explore and each entrance comes with a campfire. This makes channel hopping (which brings you to the last campfire you visited) a most viable "recall" travel method. You'd probably do it anyway just to chase the hourly Tyrant HE around.

I've now finished the middle tree of the campaign progression which means I have access to all the weeklies - most of which are easily completable. The Fane isn't that tough (definitely not as bad as Ras Nsi's first encounter), but it is moderately lengthy.

A new, old friend shows up unexpectedly too.

Anyway, I've a bit more to go with boons and hunts to unlock. The hunt drops here seem quite scarce, but I haven't been actively pursuing them enough to compare with the previous area. I'll let you know how that goes

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Dragonsphere

A good mascot for "Too Much Information".

An evil magician threatens the kingdom and you must stop him in this very verbose point and click adventure. While dated graphics wise, the animations are quite fluid and the story is good, with a decent twist near the midpoint(?).

All spoken lines are voiced (not very well), and the detail on every scene is extreme; and this is part of the problem. With every mundane object being "active" it is easy to get overwhelemed by information, especially with all the pixel hunting going on.

I almost quit here. Effing sprites.

It doesn't help that you have 10 default different actions such as "Look, Take, Throw, Put, Open, Talk to..." and have additional ones for each item you pick up. You can "shine" a ring or "lick" a dead rat. A sword can "attack, thrust or carve up".

Said actions are also not interchangeable. You can't "put" acid on the floor or "throw" acid on the floor or "use" acid on the floor but you can use "pour contents of beaker" on the floor. Irritating is an understatement.

Set in a magical, fantasy land also makes it hard to use logic to progress. Do you know that tentacles can physically grab a teleporter and let you carry it around if you get no hints? No? Lucky I just told you then because the game certainly won't! Good luck assembling mystical artifacts too.
 
It's like it was designed be unfair, and for that reason alone I give it 1 bullshitting sprite out of 5. If you are after a dated point and click adventure, go with Beneath a Steel Sky instead.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Command and Conquer

Where engineers are your most deadly weapon!

You'd think that the Earth being invaded by alien fauna called Tiberium might unite mankind but no, this game is all about the war between the Global Defense Force Initiative (GDI) and brotherhood of Nod terrorists (or just Nod) and you get to play commander for their forces.

Now, I'm terrible at RTS games so I found this really challenging from the get go. There are no difficulty options either, just a slowly expanding arsenal array to build and deal with on the field. Really, it's more like a puzzle game because if you don't do the "right" moves fast enough, then you are put into an unrecoverable losing state.

I really hate those obelisks.

While it's easy enough to load when you find yourself there, the AI doesn't ever surrender - meaning even it will try waste as much of your time as possible with its last unit/building before you get a "Mission Accomplished".

Other than that, game play wise is mostly fine (though I don't get why aircraft can't scout). It has an easy to understand HUD, entertaining (though poorly acted) mission briefing videos and music track, and delivers good challenges. Good to see that the commandos are also almost as OP as the guy in Renegade.

The Command and Conquer: The Covert Operations expansion just adds more missions for each side rather than story, and feels like they just wanted to have more skirmishes with both sides accessing their full tech trees which in the original game only happens right at the last 2-3 missions.

While I did finish the original GDI campaign, I couldn't fight through the expansion as I got tired of being nuked. Only so much fun can be had from loading a saved game after all. :P

That's my big problem with it. It's fun but only to a certain degree due to the required repetition to get things "just right". I give it 2 engineer rushes out of 5 and can only recommend it to RTS fanatics.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Treasure Adventure Game

Enjoyable and fun, until it starts to kill you! :P

While the advertised quest is to simply collect 12 treasures, the story and world in this pixel platformer has some surprising depth and decent game play, featuring a good variety of 8-bit music, puzzles, and boss fights.

The talking animals are a cute idea too.

Its also quite lengthy thanks to all the parts where you will undoubtedly get stuck and go backtracking. Fortunately, travel methods improve in speed as the game progresses.

Lastly, while not as hard as Super Meat Boy or IWBTG, there is still a fair amount of difficulty in this game, enough for me to wave off anyone who isn't into platformers. For everyone else though, this itself is quite a treasure. I give it 3 bumbling henchmen out of 5.

Note: Treasure Adventure World, the reimagining of this game, has better graphics if the pixel stuff bugs you too much. You can get it on Steam. :)

Friday, 16 March 2018

Beneath a Steel Sky

Australia... in the Future!

This point and click adventure has very simple controls (left mouse/right mouse/F5 for options) but is quite well made. Despite the obvious age, the backdrops are decent, character motions are fluid, and almost all lines of dialogue are voiced (though some incorrectly).

Obviously made before the Opal card system.

The script is also quite humorous though it's definitely for a mature audience and the midi tracks are decent background music. While I didn't run into any logic holes (can't progress because of unobtainable item), it is quite easy to get stuck in the game through three things:
  • Dialogue - only when your character knows about things do other options become available elsewhere
  • Pixel Hunting - the bane of this sort of game, where "the correct spot" is only a 2x2 pixel cluster on the screen
  • Online World - logging in to the virtual reality system gives you a variety of abilities, all of which aren't very user friendly

For the most part though, some thinking will get you a long way. Despite getting stuck a few times, I quite enjoyed this game and can recommend it to others who enjoy this genre. I give it 2.5 Joeys out of 5.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

The King of Fighters 2002

Brawling for the sake of brawling!

Instead of having any story whatsoever, this fighting game instead has 42+ characters, which is a massive line up. Each match is 3 versus 3 (apart from the boss fights), has mostly well animated sprites and generally has good, blood pumping music for each round.

I'm not sure about the fighters being "balanced", as the hit boxes are quite spot on and the time limit of 60 seconds per round makes it tough to be aggressive with the fellas who have shorter range or more defensive moves.

My sparkles are better than yours!

Fortunately for rookie button mashers like myself, defeat/continue gives you a choice of options to make your next time slightly easier after your score is reduced to 0. Maybe your power bar is always full, or the enemy AI is dumber, or the enemy only has 1/3rd of their HP. That's a pretty good system for player enjoyment I think.

Definitely fun but also definitely short if you are just going for the "once through" like I am. There is obviously more replayability if you are a hunter of secret moves and such. I give it 2 evil android guys out of 5.

Wednesday, 14 March 2018

Tyrian 2000

Space Invaders ... to the max!

While it can be played in arcade mode, Tyrian 2000 actually offers a 5 chapter story mode which was far more appealing for me to play. In it Trent the protagonist is put through the ringer in a crazy story of evil corporations, aliens and fruit cultists.

Also, regardless of your mission - be it scouting, escaping, or destroying a sun, the game play of "destroy everything without dying" holds true. This is because the more things you explode, the more money you get to upgrade your ship. The customization options are vast and is one of my favorite parts of this game.

One of the simpler level boss fights.

The music is awesome too, and the occasional choice between missions is also good. Where it gets messy is in the action portion, as later missions have so much crap flying on the screen. There are also a few missions which become a memory game (looking at you Chapter 3 Finale) because you need to know before hand where to position yourself to not die.

A fun enough diversion, though the death repetition can be a turn off. I give it 2 super carrots out of 5.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

FEAR: Perseus Mandate

A solid shooter with a few supernatural jump scares.

I've played most of the FEAR franchise long ago, but I can't remember ever playing through Perseus Mandate which possibly speaks for its memorability: ie. it's not, as you are literally the "B Team". Given it is a standalone expansion, you are expected to have played the main FEAR game prior and will be left with a few questions to the story if you haven't.

Like why things go to hell all of a sudden.

Like the original though, the FEAR AI is fantastic. The regular enemy squads work together to actively flank you, make good use of suppression and cover - leaning to fire and occasionally blind firing (gun around corner only). They do talk a lot though which is both entertaining and silly.

The musical queues are also good and not repetitive, and the boss fights can be quite challenging especially towards the end. All up, it's fun, immersive and I highly recommend it (though you probably should play the original first). I give it 4 turret mines out of 5.

Monday, 12 March 2018

Spore: Getting Uber

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

Getting out of the center of the Galaxy was more difficult than getting in, with Buglybugs using far more consumables getting away from the Grox while trying to find the right path home. It was smooth sailing once he cleared their boundary though, and was very pleased when crossing back into Bingfish territory.

After reporting to Mother Paylise at Pyrachs the alliance quickly moved to increase their defenses against the Grox, with the Spikelors developing a mega bomb for offense and an Uber Turret (flying, shielded, 50,000 HP drone) for planetary defense with Pyrachs and Tiffan being the first to have them installed.

You can custom build cities too. Less red lines the better!

Despite the distant threat, Buglybugs finally got the reward he wanted most from Mother Paylise - a well earned vacation!

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Spore: Steve in the Center

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

The unrelenting Grox sent wave after wave of fighters at the allied fleet, and at 85% to the core all his allies are dead and Buglybugs must duck onto a small moon orbiting a gas giant to hide from the pursuers - putting down a colony for repairs.

Evil cyborg space goblins!

Having used only under a third of the prepared supplies, he was in good shape though - and soon continued on the mad dash through the Grox Gauntlet. It was still terrifying with ever shortening travel distance allowances, but soon he made it... and the Grox all backed off.

There in the swirling core, Buglybugs met Steve (a human?) who congratulated him on getting this far, proving the Direbugs are worthy of advancement and gifting him the Staff of Life (instant terraform). Steve also mentioned to visit the third rock from Sol sometime, before vanishing and leaving Buglybugs the unenviable position of having to run the gauntlet in reverse to return to Pyrachs.

Spore: Journey to the Center of the Galaxy

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

Having stabilized the sector, Buglybugs spent a bit of time buying consumable supplies and gathering a fleet composed of the Rammo, Spikelor, Dubel, Gibolobs and Sir Beakenstein for the next mission: to find the Grox and reach the center of the galaxy.

After leaving the outskirts of the Bingfish Empire (25% to the center) the fleet encounters absolutely nothing until they are 80% to the core. At this range, the dense gravity wells are affecting the propulsion drives, lowering the acceptable travel range from planet to planet.

The map is huge!

This is also where the edge of the Grox (cyborg goblins) Empire, and they fiercely defend their territory with pretty powerful ships. Rather than stop and fight, the fleet tries to outrace them to the center...

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Spore: All Oscae, Sector Secure

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

With only the Oscae remaining as a nearby threat, Buglybugs gets his allies to swarm them from all sides, including his new buddies the Time Flies and Sir Beakenstein (space vulture who donated 40k cash and was proactive in seeking an alliance).

This frees him up to do other tasks, such as save the Gooplets from an eco disaster, the Lillo from a Grox scouting party, purchasing the final tools needed for full terraforming from Pyrachs and upgrading the ships pulse weapon from the Bingfish.

With a fair bit of effort, he also upgrades Tiffan to a T3 score and puts another colony down to pump up the purple spice production. The resulting funds are used in part to purchase a planet from the Bordooshio and the Dubel's homeworld for a cool 10M.

Winning through global warming!

During this time, the Rammo had conquered the Oscae home world and the Time Flies finished them off. The Direbug Empire, now only surrounded by friends, was secure.

Spore: Chibby Corgel Catastrophe

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

After saving Pyrachs from the Chibby invasion, Buglybugs repairs all the planetary defenses and then bank rolls his allies into war - sending the Spikelors and Dubels against the vast Chibby Empire and the Rammo against the Corgel.

He also upgrades his ship with a Dubel cloaking device and worm hole key, and then larger bombs, a mini pulse laser, and better ship armor thanks to the Spikelor. He then goes for the weakest enemy - the Corgel, and wipes them out via the tried and true terrorformed (reverse terraform) tactic on their home world.

Corgel: Extinct!

This frees up the Rammo to battle the Oscae while Buglybugs leads the charge against the Chibby, capturing and destroying planets one after another until they too are removed from existence. For this he is now known among the planets as "the Omnipotent Warrior Hero".

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Spore: Crouching Elephant, Hidden Dragon

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

Terraforming Tiffan (improving the score) is a lot of work. Meteor showers and an asteroid are pulled in from space (Dubel tech) to increase the warmth of the planet, followed by planting flora (small, medium, large), 2 types of herbivores and one carnivore - in that order - for each T-rating ring.

Buglybugs manages to get the planet to T2, and puts a second colony down on the same planet. The reason for all the attention is Tiffan produces a very rare purple spice and sure enough, selling one haul of the stuff quickly puts the Direbugs funds over a million!

It's not all good news though, as a new warrior Empire - the Oscae (soldier dragons) appear near Tiffan and demand taxes, even after Buglybugs tries appease them by destroying some turrets of the Time Flies (sentient clocks with wings) for them. On the other side, the Rammo ask for help against against more Spode zealots - the Corgels (six eyed elephants).

Green space is friendly, red space isn't.

Buglybugs cannot assist though, as he is recalled to Pyrachs to defend against an invading Chibby fleet!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Spore: New Kids on the Block

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

With the Flixxels defeated, Buglybugs suddenly runs into new races back near the home planet Pyrachs - the Stomachio (Red Slaad), and Dubels (scientific clown spiders) who both open contact by donating thousands of spore bucks... and the Chibby (pink cyclops ducks) whose first contact is to attack!

Probably wouldn't ally with actual Slaads though...

After upgrading to a mega laser thanks to the Spikelors (those dinos love developing weapons), Buglybugs helps the Stomachio in their war against the Chibby by attacking their home world. The mega laser doesn't quite cut it, but the terrorforming does. Buglybugs absorbs all the moisture of the T3 planet leaving it as a dry T0 husk.

For this both the Stomachio and Dubel agree to an alliance, and the Dubels give an interstellar drive level 4 along with specific terraforming gear that Buglybugs needs to terraform one particular Direbug outpost on Tiffan. In addition, they now dub him "the All Powerful".

Monday, 5 March 2018

Spore: Flixxels End

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

Despite the loss of their home world, the Flixxels still manage to send an invasion force close to Pyrarchs itself - forcing Buglybugs to pause his assault to stop them. Just as well since he could also help the Spikelors with an eco disaster, and is rewarded with an upgraded laser blaster.

Upon returning to the Flixxel sector, he paid his Gooplet allies 56K spore bucks to launch a simultaneous attack on the zealots and made good use of the laser which was much faster at conquering cities than destroying them with mini bombs. More cost efficient too, since said cities now work for the Direbug empire.

Ultimately the Flixxel are defeated, and what remains of their race now serve as slaves or cattle. Exactly what they deserve!

Flixxel: Enslaved!

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Spore: Terrorforming

[Part of the Direbug Saga]

Angered by the Flixxels, Buglybugs goes on the attack - destroying the Flixxel base on Ramrourna and another on Natosieger, though the latter surrendered before being bombed to oblivion.

The allied fleet then attacked the Flixxel homeworld, and even with a pirate fleet supporting them (Buglybugs has an ability to call them apparently), the defenses were just too strong. Numerous turrets, SAMs and unending fleets of Flixxel fighters crushed the attackers and put Buglybugs on the run.

Despite his ship being on fire, Buglybugs didn't leave the planet yet as he was faster than his pursuers. He quickly checked what gear he had left and found the terraforming equipment still intact. While improving a terrascore of a planet (levels to support life) was challenging, destroying said terrascore was easy.

With an evil grin, Buglybugs put his cloud condensers at maximum and used almost all the energy left in his spacecraft to transform the lush T3 Flixxel home world into a T0 near uninhabitable, ocean planet.

Drown you bastards!

All but one city was washed away with the rest of the rest of the flora and fauna, and with most of the turrets gone in had no hope to survive the bombing run afterwards.