Category Archives: entertainment

One Leaves wants you to know it’s not too late to quit smoking

I’m not a smoker, but I did try a cigarette in high school–thanks, peer pressure!–and found it to be a terrible experience. I immediately began coughing uncontrollably, doubled over, and have never smoked another cig since. Sure, I’ve had some pot and cigars at various points in my life, but those are much different beasts to me, and I’m not addicted to them so many years later.

One Leaves‘ entire narrative is wrapped around quitting smoking, how smoking is bad for your health, and how badly it affects the body. I agree; don’t do it. There’s also elements of tobacco-related death in the game, with a theme that uses statistics to relay the fact that the few who start smoking rarely ever give up. I’ll credit the game for this because it is an important message that any smoker should hear. Alas, it’s difficult to take the game’s message very seriously at all due to how it plays and treats the player.

One Leaves starts out by placing you in a cage. Here, you’ll see three other characters in cages of their own. Each of you has a door to enter, which is locked until an audio message tells you that only one of you will escape. Hence, the game’s title. The moment the door opens, you’re free to patrol the game’s confined environments at your own pace though I guess the point is to move face and with urgency. You’ll immediately see a locked gate that has some power cables running from it. The goal is to follow each cable until you meet its puzzle; solve said puzzle, and move on to the next one until you reach the final area, which is a randomized maze to navigate.

There’s no shortage of framerate issues to contend with, as well as regular crashing and kicks to the Xbox One’s dashboard, which, for a free game isn’t the worst thing ever, but it also isn’t great either. Visually, One Leaves is ugly, complete with poor lighting, bland textures, and a lackluster presentation. The game’s audio work is also subpar.

Alas, I didn’t make it through the final maze quick enough, and so I’m stuck in One Leaves‘ smoky purgatory until another contestant tries to make an escape. Until then, I guess I’ll just hold my breath.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #38 – One Leaves

Smoking is bad, duh
Escape the maze, run don’t cough
Addiction is death

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #37 – Northbound

Escape life, roadtrip
Stuck in bus, questioning day
No longer high school

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

Paul’s Preeminent PlayStation Plus Purge – Eat Them!

I like eating. Right now, unfortunately, due to issues related to my colon cancer, I’m not eating as much as I like. That’s a shame, both for me as well as the wonderful recipes my wife puts together. I hope to get back to a place where I can eat and not worry, but until then I guess I’ll just stomp around, destroying buildings and consuming humans for energy. Oh wait, no, that’s not me…that’s Eat Them!

In Eat Them!, you take on the role of disgraced government scientist Dr. Wilder. He has created an array of giant monsters to wreak havoc on the comic-inspired, cel-shaded city streets…because that’s just what you do when you are both disgraced and a scientist. I mean, it’s practically a law. Anyways, these big ol’ beasts eat people for power and destroy everything in their path using heavy-hitting melee weapons, mortars, powerful long-range lasers, and more.

Eat Them! lets you create monsters by plugging together arms, heads, and other pieces you’ve unlocked as you finish missions. After that, you’re tasked with taking out “baddies” across a number of different gameplay modes where you smash, kick, roar, and jump on buildings and vehicles that have earned your ire. Initially, this is a lot of fun and reminds me of the good times we all had with the 1986 arcade classic Rampage. The game has a solid look to it–I mean, I love all things cel-shaded–and it does feel good causing all this destruction, but unfortunately the fun only lasts for so long. The missions begin to feel repetitive rather quickly, and I just didn’t feel like progressing after a short while.

So, see ya in another life, Eat Them!, one where I too can enjoy consumption at the same rate and level as a giant monster.

Oh look, another reoccurring feature for Grinding Down. At least this one has both a purpose and an end goal–to rid myself of my digital collection of PlayStation Plus “freebies” as I look to discontinue the service soon. I got my PlayStation 3 back in January 2013 and have since been downloading just about every game offered up to me monthly thanks to the service’s subscription, but let’s be honest. Many of these games aren’t great, and the PlayStation 3 is long past its time in the limelight for stronger choices. So I’m gonna play ’em, uninstall ’em. Join me on this grand endeavor.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #36 – PostMan

Mail to deliver
Need a dragon’s help, bird too
Some tricky puzzles

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

2019 Game Review Haiku, #35 – Batman: Arkham City

Dying Batman needs
Cure, but the Joker prevails
A tiresome (k)night

And we’re back with these little haikus of mine. Go on, gobble ’em up. However, if you want to read more of my in-depth thoughts about these games that I’m beating, just search for them by name on Grinding Down. As always, enjoy my videogamey take on Japanese poetry, even if they aren’t instant classics, such as the works of Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, or Kobayashi Issa. Hey, not everyone gets to be that great.

If you work hard in Punch Club’s training, the fight is easy

I don’t know much about boxing, and I know even less about what it entails to train to become a good boxer. I figure it’s a lot of punching bags, doing push-ups, and dodging and weaving. I saw one of the Rocky films, but couldn’t tell you which one. Well, if anything, Punch Club is showing me that there’s much more involved, such as holding down part-time jobs, fighting mutated monsters in the sewers, eating food, sleeping, and keeping up your romantic relationships by bringing a young woman some flowers. The boxing life, it ain’t easy.

There’s a story here, and it’s sad. Your father was brutally murdered before your eyes…kind of just like how Batman’s parents went down. Now you must train hard, eat chicken, and punch dudes in the face to earn your place in the Punch Club ranks. All of this serves for you to discover who ended your father’s life and get that sweet, sweet revenge. I’m not there yet, still pretty low in the ranks, because it can be hard to multi-task, and so I’m splitting my time between multiple tasks, not sure what to really be focusing on in the short term. I figure it is better right now to earn money and buy training gear for my garage than keep paying the expensive gym fees, and that’s my main goal. The problem is something else always gets in the way.

Punch Club, for those that don’t know, comes from Lazy Bear Games and is a boxing tycoon management game with multiple branching storylines. Your goal is pretty clear from the start, but how you get there depends on whether you want to legitimately climb the rankings or take the more ridiculous, shady route. I’m kind of dancing between both paths at the moment, unsure where my loyalty lies, but I’ll eventually need to pick a path and stick to it.

Whatever task you’re completing, whether is it punching a bag or delivering pizza, gameplay boils down to watching a series of fluctuating statistic bars representing your various levels go up or down and then judging when enough is enough. Every activity essentially fills up some and empties others, with time given a crucial stat bar of its own. It’s an approach that carries through to the most important portion of Punch Club: training up your fighter. You can improve your brawler’s three core attributes–strength, agility, and stamina–by using certain pieces of gym equipment. However, your abilities will degrade over time when you’re not exercising, so it’s best to reserve the really hard graft for the period just before your next fight, to better your chances for climbing that ladder.

I’m usually not one for management sims, but Punch Club has both an aesthetic and attitude that I really do dig. It doesn’t take itself too seriously. This is basically a sim of a 1980s fighter movie, so all the nostalgia is quite warranted. I won’t spoil all the references, but you’ll see loving nods to Rocky, Blood Sport, Cobra, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, Fight Club, Aliens, and more. The game itself uses pixel art, and it’s better than anything you probably ever saw on the SNES, with more colors and attention to detail. It might not be for everyone, but it’s definitively for me.

I don’t know how far up the ladder my trainee will get, but, for the time being, I’ll keep climbing.