Category Archives: comics

Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness is too long a title

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I’ve gone through phases with Penny Arcade over the years. At first, I was enamored with the comic strip, hungry for each new update and over-the-top zinger. I even went back through the archives and watched as Mike Krahulik’s art and Jerry Holkins’ joke-telling evolved, sometimes in ways that made me cringe and occasionally in ways that spoke deeply and directly to me. For a while there, I tuned in for their reality style show about the behind-the-scenes stuff, as well as watched a bit of Strip Search. Plus, this is the company that puts together PAX, a powerhouse of a gaming convention I’d love to be involved in somehow, some day. Still, recently, their handling of criticism often feels too childish and dismissive, which is maybe why it’s taken me three years to click “play” on Penny Arcade Adventures: On the Rain-Slick Precipice of Darkness, bought and installed back in 2012.

I’m going to shorten that title to PAA: Rain-Slick for the purposes of keeping this blog post from being unnecessarily lengthy–or more lengthy than usual. I do ramble from time to time. Moving on, this is an episodic role-playing adventure from Hothead Games set in an alternate 1920s version of New Arcadia. You play as whoever, custom creating a man or woman in the art style of the comic. I made a dude who kinda looks like me, but is named Carl and doesn’t have a full beard. Suddenly, Carl’s home is destroyed by a giant robot. This is in fact a steampunk version of Fruit Fucker Prime, a popular little side character devil from the comic strip that….well, it likes making fruit juice, if you will. You join Tycho Brahe and Johnathan Gabriel in pursuit of this mechanical beast.

PAA: Rain-Slick is a mix of genres actually. It’s got some point-and-click action happening where you can click on nearly any item for a description, as well as that active time battle system from Final Fantasy when battling menacing, fruit-loving robots, creepy mimes, and smelly hobos. One must also consider QTE button prompts when attacking or blocking for extra damage, similar to actions in Paper Mario: Sticker Star, and the timing on these all differ based upon the enemy. If you’re good enough, you’ll score a free counterattack. Spoiler: I’m never good enough. There’s a variety of items to use to boost attacks, weaken defenses, and distract enemies for a bit, and knowing what to use when is vital to staying alive. I will say here and now that I’m a big fan of RPGs that heal your entire party after every fight, as it lessens the amount of time one spends in a menu every few minutes to keep everybody healthy and hearty. Yes, Final Fantasy IX, you’re a mega-culprit of this.

PAA: Rain-Slick is mostly linear, just like Costume Quest, but you can devote extra time to search out all the little robots or collectibles. There’s no grinding, however, as there’s a set number of enemies in the game to defeat, which means you are never over- or under-powered for any fight. You are always right where the developers want you to be, but this means there is little customization for your party, other than spending scrap to upgrade their individual weapons for more damage. I was hoping to collect a bunch of goofy weapons, especially when you consider your created avatar wields a rake from the get-go. It’s also quite contained, limited to three smallish areas to explore, and a safehouse to gather information via Anne Claire and upgrade your weapons. I’m not terribly opposed to back-tracking, but it does feel somewhat limiting here.

Sometimes a relatively short, straightforward RPG is good for the soul, and even though I’m not in love with all the jokes or writing or gameplay mechanics here, it’s sating my thirst. I’ll most likely move on to Episode Two of PAA: Rain-Slick after polishing this first adventure off, and I hope to see some changes down the road. Like more customization or better timing clues in combat. Also, no more quest lines based around urination.

Participating in Extra Life for the very first time

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Hi, everyone! It’s me, your Grinding Down creator, author, and somewhat steady maintainer–Paul Abbamondi! I made a big decision recently, and that is to participate in Extra Life this upcoming Saturday, October 25. What’s Extra Life, you ask not knowing? Well, in their words, it’s “an online grassroots movement working to save local kids through the power of play.” Basically, people stay up for 24 hours straight playing games and asking for donations. Over the years I’ve watched others put in the time and raise money for children in need, and now, nervous as I am, I’m gonna do it too. First, some important links to click on:

My donations page: http://tinyurl.com/pabbamondiEL2014

My Twitch page, where hopefully you’ll be able to watch me stream: http://www.twitch.tv/paulwise

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what I’m thinking. My goal is set at $100 (and we’re already halfway there!), but of course I’d love to raise a whole lot more for PennState Hershey’s Children’s Hospital. I plan to make a big dent in my Steam catalog, though I have to be careful in what I play as my laptop can’t really handle anything too strenuous and stream at the same time, thus the above list of indie/older titles. If I somehow run out of things to play there, I can always hit up the consoles or handhelds (I’ll most likely be getting Fantasy Life the day before), though I can’t really stream from them.

Tentatively, I’ll start streaming at 9:00 AM Saturday and won’t stop playing vidya gamez until 9:00 Sunday. I will be maintaining a “live” blog post here on Grinding Down, updating it hopefully once an hour or so, though these’ll be short, quick updates. Truthfully, I’m excited about finally finding the time to eat up some Deus Ex: GOTY more than anything. I am part of Team Giant Bomb, and I appreciate any support you can offer me–this is my first time doing anything like this, and I’ll be running at it solo (well, my cats will be around), so please, give me strength. And donations, too. FOR THE KIDS.

2014 Game Completed Comics, #32 – Metal Gear

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Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

2014 Game Completed Comics, #31 – The Binding of Isaac

2014 games completed 31 binding of isaac resized

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

2014 Game Completed Comics, #30 – Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures, Episode 2 – “The Last Resort”

2014 games completed 30 the last resort resized

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

2014 Game Completed Comics, #29 – A World of Keflings

2014 games completed 29 a world of keflings resized

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.

2014 Game Completed Comics, #28 – Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Adventures, Episode 1 – “Fright of the Bumblebees”

2014 games completed 28 wallace episode 1 resized

Every videogame that I complete in 2014 will now get its very own wee comic here on Grinding Down. It’s about time I fused my art with my unprofessional games journalism. I can’t guarantee that these comics will be funny or even attempt to be funny. Or look the same from one to another. Some might even aim for thoughtfulness. Comics are a versatile form, so expect the unexpected.