Monthly Archives: March 2013

2013 Game Review Haiku, #11 – Dinner Date

2013 games completed 11 dinner date

Drink your dinner down
You sad, dead speck of nothing
She is not coming

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

Thoughts on Dinner Date while I wait for my dinner date

Dinner Date impressions

Thankfully, I’ve never been stood up; granted, I’ve only gone out on so many dates in my short time on this planet, and only two of them could really be considered “blind,” with most romantic outings being mutually agreed upon long before it all went down. So I don’t know what that feels like exactly, though I could naturally pull from the emotions I feel over other forms of abandonment and disappointment.

Well, with the latest package from Bundle in a Box, which is called the “Cerebral Bundle,” I now know how it feels to eat a meal for two all alone. Before I get to that, let me list everything you get if you beat the average price, which you totally should:

  • Vampires!
  • Dinner Date
  • Phantasmaburbia
  • Necrotic Drift Deluxe
  • Dédale De Luxe
  • J.U.L.I.A.
  • I Get This Call Every Day
  • Cognition, Ep.1: The Hangman
  • Reversion – The Meeting

Whew. That’s nine games, and before dropping some coin on the bundle, I only ever heard of one thanks to an interesting article over at Giant Bomb. The other eight just look like strange ol’ names to me, and of them, I was initially drawn to try out Dinner Date first. Why? Well, it had the easiest name to digest, one which seemed to summarize itself in a single breath. I do hope to at least give each other game a try, especially J.U.L.I.A.,but knowing me and my awesome skills at multitasking and collecting more games than I know what to do with…well, not in a month of Sundays.

In short, Dinner Date has you exploring the subconsciousness of protagonist Julian Luxemburg as he sits at his dinner table, which is set for two, waiting for his date Meiko to arrive. As the night progresses and Meiko is nowhere to be seen, his thoughts continue to unfold  more frantically, and we learn about the worries that trouble him, many of which are not necessarily related to being stood up. Now, you experience this in a pretty non-traditional manner, slipping into Luxemburg’s mind with some control over his hands and movements. Think Being John Malkovich, but with keyboard button prompts. Via a first-person perspective, you can look at the clock, eat some bread, drink a glass of wine, smoke a cig, tap your fingers, stretch, and so on–all while Luxemburg mumbles and groans about his woes, quietly at first and then ultimately peaking after too much wine loosens his lips. Occasionally, I was unable to hear what he said, but his tone more than made his frustration cleared.

For my time with Dinner Date, I sat mostly mesmerized. A lot of that had to do with the soft, ambient music and just the surprising excitement that came with a new button prompt after X amount of time. Oh man. I can dip the bread in sauce? You mean I can stir my soup before I eat it? Sweetness. I have to wonder if this is what Heavy Rain is like in terms of detailed actions. If so, I’m in. Alas, after the credits rolled, the game crashed, which kind of left me a little confused, as I wasn’t sure if I had played the entire game or just a small slice of it; based on forum postings, I’ve done it all, which means it ends rather as one expects, which is a letdown for Luxemburg, as well as myself. I’d have liked to see how he fared the next day, the next week. Maybe even try again to get Meiko over. Oh well…

Dinner Date is about thirty minutes long in total with limited interactivity despite all the actions I listed that you can do as our leading curmudgeon. You’re basically just passing time until he is ready to move on to the next scene, the first of which covers wine, the second soup, and the third dealing with smoking a cigarette. It’s interesting, for sure, but I’d have liked more game than story in this one, which ultimately leaves it feeling like a fine piece of art, one you can look at and, untraditionally, touch, but can’t control. Still, there’s eight more games for me to check out from Bundle in a Box‘s “Cerebral Bundle.”

Once more, off to MegaCon to StreetPass like woah

megacon 2013 orl fl gd post

It’s been a year, and so I’m off yet again to attend MegaCon 2013 in Orlando, FL, this upcoming weekend. I’ll be there with my wife Tara Abbamondi at Table Red 1 in the Artists Alley, selling comics, looking all shy, and quietly StreetPassing with my 3DS safely in my pocket. If you are going to the show, please do swing by our table and say hi; I’ll be the one with the beard.

Now, last year, I was able to StreetPass 168 times. That’s a lot for three or four days of non-stop comic convention action. Especially when I am behind a table for most of it. Seriously, it seemed like I couldn’t clear out my gate fast enough before one or two more Miis popped up, ready to give me a puzzle piece and help swing a sword in Find Mii 2. That said, given how the handheld system has grown since February 2012, I think I can do even better. Maybe over 200 tags. Maybe…250. Who knows.

As always, I’m looking to complete more puzzle murals, with maybe seven or eight still to go. I also recently found a retail copy of Fire Emblem: Awakening and have played maybe thirty or so minutes of it, but hopefully that’s enough to have unlocked its StreetPassing features, and so I’m hoping to gain some new comrades. I think I’m full for Super Mario 3D Land, with three present boxes awaiting my return, but I could always use more of those. What other games use StreetPass? Hmm, Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy does, though I don’t remember what one trades. Favorite song and a profile card? Shame Paper Mario: Sticker Star doesn’t–at least not that I’m aware of–as it would be really easy to just gather some super strong, shiny stickers from those you pass. In short, give me lots of stuff.

Anyways, place your bets below in the comments on how many StreetPass tags you think I’ll obtain at MegaCon this year. I offered the prize last year of a “blog topic of choice,” which I don’t Tara ever cashed in, but let’s go with that again. If you are the closest, without going over, I’ll write about whatever you want. Even if I don’t know much about the topic, like Call of Duty multiplayer loadouts or how to mix that special potion in Atelier Ayesha: The Alchemist of Dusk. Really, the choice is yours, so guess away.

And see you when I return! I guess those blog posts on my progress in Paper Mario: Sticker Star and overall thoughts on Hector: Badge of Carnage will just have to wait…

2013 Game Review Haiku, #10 – Vanquish

2013 games completed vanquish

Slide, shoot, hide, slide, shoot
The standard “save the world” stuff
Foreboding ending

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

A scientist and studying mage join forces in Patchwork

patchwork early impressions

Right now, I’m really embracing the short, free PC games, as well as the point and click genre yet again, having recently beaten one where a magical forest critter rescues his stolen sister, one where a grumbling D.I. saves a his town from exploding, and one where a medium solves the mystery behind a murderous street psychic. Oh, and early on in January, I finished up the final two episodes of Telltale’s The Walking Dead. So yeah, points and clicks–it’s happening. I really hope I’m still embracing the genre like so by the time Double Fine’s Reds (codename only) comes out. Y’know, whenever that is.

Until then, there’s plenty of small, free point-and-click adventure games out there on the Interwebz to eat up my time, like Patchwork. Which is a fantasy adventure game from someone under the username of Ilyich. Sorry, that’s all I could really unearth about the dev. If you know more, please enlighten me. In it, you take control of both a scientist named David and a young student mage from another realm called Lin as they struggle to close the rift between their two worlds that they themselves inadvertently caused. It’s ironic and fun, with colorful screens and soft, ambient music that kind of lulls you into a daze, pulling you into another world. The animation work isn’t too bad either.

My favorite part of the game is that you get to control two characters, and just like with Rosa and Joey from Blackwell Deception, Lin and David can interact with items in strikingly different ways. Even more, Lin can see what David can’t considering he is in her magical realm, a place that is just normal in her eyes. For instance, on the screen above, David just sees a large tree, but Lin knows it truly as a dryad and can even speak with it to learn that she desperately needs her roots watered. Both characters have their own inventories, and you can also combine items to make new ones, though it’s not always clear if the item creation failed because the items didn’t gel or if I clicked wrong. Think a simple “No, that doesn’t make sense.” kind of comment would have greatly helped, especially as I tried to make a pair of glasses for a certain eyesight-impaired blacksmith using every item I had. What? Just stick ’em on a rock and go.

The only nitpicks I have with Patchwork so far involve, naturally, basic grammar issues. The writing itself is lively and fun and not very serious, but “it’s” is incorrectly used every single time, and there’s a love for writing “all right” as “alright,” which is a personal pet peeve of mine. Would also have loved if Lin (or David) was able to carry the spellbook with them, as it does offer clues on how to get each element, but I have to keep returning to Lin’s house to read it. Nothing terribly devastating, especially when you remember that this wee adventure comes at no cost.

If any of the above sounds like your cup of point-and-click, head on over here to download the game. I suspect I’m about midway through it, only have to get a few more items to summon a rain storm and Back to the Future (I’m using that title as a verb) David to his true world. Just need to solve the cave puzzle of humming crystals, please the fire spirit, and water the tree by somehow opening up that fire hydrant. I think. Wish me luck.

Shapik: The Quest is a magical twenty minutes elsewhere

shapik the quest overall

I was not in the mood to go out for lunch today, and so I stayed in, gobbling up my turkey-and-cheese spinach wrap in record time and washing it all down with a bottle of Arizona green tea. No, really–I ate super fast today, and so I had some free time during my lunchbreak, and what better way to fill free time with than freeware. In this scenario, I’m speaking specifically about a little point-and-click darling called Shapik: The Quest, which you can play totally for free in your browser over at NewGrounds.

Now, there are countless little adventure freeware games out there, but Shapik stood out mainly on its visuals. It’s fantastic art is like a criss-cross of Samorost 2 and Botanicula/The Tiny Bang Story (both owned, but not yet played), with colorful, kooky critters standing out in a cutesy way against detailed and other worldly backgrounds. You start out in a magical forest and end in more modern locations, like a building’s interior and roof, but those places still retain a unique look to set them apart from what one might deem traditional. All along, there’s ambient music that is evocative, but not distracting, and no voiced dialogue, just grunts and sound effects and pictures in word balloons a la Machinarium, which helps keep the magic self-contained.

But what is Shapik’s quest? Why am I playing this freeware point-and-clicker? I’m glad you asked. Allow me to copy/paste the game’s description and control scheme, bad grammar left as is, as presented on its NewGrounds site:

This is a story of Shapik, traveling through magic forest in search of his missing sister. Explore a beautiful world, full of mystery, magic and danger and find your missing sister, solving puzzles on your way.

Use your mouse.

Right. You are Shapik, a kind creature of the forest, your sister was stolen by bug-like things for unknown reasons, and you are off to rescue her. That doesn’t take very long, spanning nine individual screens, each of which has maybe two or three puzzles to solve. I ended up finishing it all in around twenty minutes, road-blocked only in two cases: once for a cryptic doorlock code, and the second for figuring out how to overload a furnace. There is no inventory; you just click on things, and either Shapik interacts with it or his bee friend will, and the puzzles themselves are very straightforward, such as using a crane to lift a hatch open.

So that was pretty enjoyable. Really, if you’ve got twenty to thirty minutes to kill, give Shapik: The Quest a go. Oh, and since it’s my blog and my gaming history, I’m counting it as one more done for 2013.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #9 – Shapik: The Quest

2013 games completed shapik the quest

Explore magical
Forest to find lost sister
Click to solve puzzles

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.

2013 Game Review Haiku, #8 – Hector: Badge of Carnage, Episode 3

games completed 2013 hector ep 3

Save that Clappers Wreake
From a carnival of bombs
Say “avocado”

These little haikus proved to be quite popular in 2012, so I’m gonna keep them going for another year. Or until I get bored with them. Whatever comes first. If you want to read more words about these games that I’m beating, just search around on Grinding Down. I’m sure I’ve talked about them here or there at some point. Anyways, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry.