Tag Archives: artwork

2018 Game Review Haiku, #26 – Late Night Wanderer

A late night walk home
The paranoia sets in
Dead phone battery

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

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2018 Game Review Haiku, #25 – Garden of Oblivion

Stuck, unsound garden
Open the door, discover
Your good/bad ending

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

2018 Game Review Haiku, #24 – The Flood

Find serenity
Amidst destruction, simply
Enjoy the journey

For 2018, I’m mixing things up by fusing my marvelous artwork and even more amazing skills at writing videogame-themed haikus to give you…a piece of artwork followed by a haiku. I know, it’s crazy. Here’s hoping you like at least one aspect or even both, and I’m curious to see if my drawing style changes at all over three hundred and sixty-five days (no leap year until 2020, kids). Okay, another year of 5–7–5 syllable counts is officially a go.

Rescuing a village of emotional fruit people is just what you do in Karambola

karambola-final-impressions-capture

Here’s a funny coincidence: I played Karambola, and then, the next day, ate some carambola, for the first time, as part of a fruit salad when visiting family for babies and a BBQ. I found the starfruit to be quite sweet, but maybe my taste-buds are off as I was the only one to think this. Others claimed it as bitter. To me, it tasted like a sweeter grape–no, not the cotton candy kind–and I am officially a fan. I’m also a fan of the point-and-click adventure-in-your-browser game Karambola, strange as it is, an artsy mix of bitter and sweet, a satisfying snack in the end.

First, if anything, Holy Pangolin Studio’s Karambola has reminded me of a great sin–that I’ve not yet played Samorost 3 this year despite totally saying I wanted to. These games swim in the same bizarre and silly point-and-click adventure pool where everything is all at once familiar and slightly unsettling. I mean, in this one, a flock of evil bird-thoughts–which I assume are standard endothermic vertebrates that happen to bring about unwanted thinking to those they encounter, like gray clouds hanging overhead–attack a village of peaceful and, might I add, emotional fruit people. Unfortunately for our titular protagonist Karambola, all of his friends scatter, lost to their own inner demons, and it’s up to you to bring them back via some smart if unconventional puzzle-solving clicking.

Each distraught villager is its own scene and puzzle, and some are easier to figure out than others, but all clues are directly in front of you, distorted or purposefully blurred, hidden in the environment for you to find. Still, everything is eventually doable with enough thinking and clicking, and you are then treated to a little animation of the emotional fruit-headed villager coming back to reality and happiness, color washing the screen clean. Then it is back to the Mega Man-esque level select screen to save the next downer, until all hope is returned.

Music and sound effects are vital to Karambola‘s storytelling, especially since you only get a screen of text at the start to explain the setup and then nothing more. Audio helps sell these villagers as villagers and sets the tone for each scene, whether it is the rhythmic lighting up of windows or muted guitar chords as a pinecone-headed figure cries into a wooden tube in the woods. A lot of the music is low, soft, clearly atmospheric, and it mixes strongly with the colorless, almost sketch-like artwork of the fruit people against the water-colored backdrops. There’s also a really fantastic little musical loop that plays when you click on the evil bird-thoughts to get a glimpse of unspoken story in their silhouetted bodies. Some of the bands on the soundtrack include Bird of Either and Avell, which are both new to me.

Lastly, some linkage. I know, I know…I just linked to some bands’ Facebook pages, but these are the more game-relevant ones. First, check out this interview with Karambola‘s creator Agata Nawrot. Second, give this oddball of a game a shot by clicking here and enjoying it in whatever browser you like to use. I played mine in Mozilla Firefox, for what it’s worth. Lastly, fruit flies are the worst, but evidently evil bird-thoughts are much worse, so don’t let your guard down. After all, there’s never been a better time to be playing videogames than right now.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #11 – The Curse of the Mushroom King

2016 gd games completed the curse of the mushroom king

Cursed, never again
To enjoy PB&J
Tortuous puzzles

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.

Journey to the Center of the Sun dreams up your new purpose

journey to the center of the sun screenshot 02

I questioned whether I should consider Journey to the Center of the Sun as a game I completed in 2016, seeing as it took no more than ten minutes to get through, ends abruptly, and doesn’t actually deliver on the promise of journeying to the center of the sun. That said, there’s definitely something here. A seed of an idea, an ocean of style, and it has the potential to be something grander, so I’m giving it its due in hope of pushing it forward to evolve into a more fulfilling experience.

Here’s the plot, which is far-fetched, but fun in a Pixar-like fashion: you wake from a vivid dream with a new purpose in life, which is to be the first human ever to fly a rocket into the sun. Your first goal is to get hold of a rocketship. Unfortunately, after finding one on your apartment building’s rooftop, you discover that it’s going to cost you $8 zillion to purchase. That’s quite an expensive rocketship, as well as an indeterminately large amount of money in reality. Might as well said it costs $567.9 million billion trillion jillion zillion.

Obviously, what really sold me to give Journey to the Center of the Sun a shot are its visuals, which are childish, but dripping with style. They are both vibrant and gloomy all at once, and they help distract you from the silly nature of the plot whereas if these were highly detailed people and environments you might just walk away from it entirely for being too goofy of a game. Some scenes look nicer than others, especially the sewer and inside the coffee shop, but there’s a foundation here to grow from. Evidently, this game from Chad Lare was inspired by onegameamonth.com and its “solar” theme from July 2015; you can read more about his thoughts postmortem its release over at his blog.

A couple of critiques, because now’s the time. I found transitioning between scenes involving doors to be jarring, as you’re stuck inside the doorway when in the next area and have to move out of it first before exploring, instead of simply appearing outside of the doorway. A bit hard to explain, but if you give the game a go–I’ll link to it in the last paragraph–you’ll see what I mean. The UI for the dialogue trees is a bit strange, though not a deal-breaker. Lastly, and I don’t know if this had something more to do with my browser since I didn’t download the Windows version, there’s no audio, which could really help give the ultra atmospheric visuals an extra punch.

I’m curious to see either this style or Journey to the Center of the Sun develop. Really, I’d be happy with either outcome. Until then, give this a shot, especially if you aren’t a big fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Trust me on that last bit.

2016 Game Review Haiku, #8 – Journey to the Center of the Sun

2016 gd games completed journey to the center of the sun

Wake, you have a dream
To reach sun’s center, for fame
Find sewer money

Here we go again. Another year of me attempting to produce quality Japanese poetry about the videogames I complete in three syllable-based phases of 5, 7, and 5. I hope you never tire of this because, as far as I can see into the murky darkness–and leap year–that is 2016, I’ll never tire of it either. Perhaps this’ll be the year I finally cross the one hundred mark. Buckle up–it’s sure to be a bumpy ride. Yoi ryokō o.