Tag Archives: artwork

It’s completely true that A Good Snowman is Hard to Build

I don’t think I’ve ever actually constructed a full snowman. I’ve made mini versions that were no bigger than a few inches tall on several front stoops, but the real deal just seems like a lot of work, especially once you realize you have to lift those snowballs on top of each other. Our next door neighbors built one last winter in the backward, and we got to watch it slowly melt away, which is always a little depressing. Anyways, snowmen…they are cool, especially if you take the angle that Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes fame does; however, you won’t find any sickly monstrosities in A Good Snowman is Hard to Build, but every snowman you construct is simply adorable, and there’s even one named Paul.

Right, let’s get to it. For spring is coming. A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is a puzzle videogame created by Alan Hazelden and Benjamin Davis. After searching around on my very own blog here, I see that I’ve played some work by Hazelden in the past, namely a thing called Skipping Stones to Lonely Homes. That’s nice of me. And, in my Twitch Prime list, I have another of his to install and play down the road–Cosmic Express. Anyways, A Good Snowman is Hard to Build was released in 2015 for personal computers and mobile devices, but I only noticed it the other day, again, in my Twitch Prime list, waiting to be installed on my computer. Ultimately, I’m glad I did.

A Good Snowman is Hard to Build is, more or less, a bunch of puzzle rooms with the connected theme of building either one, two, or three snowpeople. You do this by rolling a snowball into a large ball, then rolling another into a medium ball and putting it on top of it, and lastly adhering a small snowball as the being’s head; if you do this correctly, you will construct the named snowman and open up paths to more puzzle areas. Graphics are by Benjamin Davis, and they are adorable, even the little monster you control. The game’s original soundtrack is by Priscilla Snow, and it’s calming and quiet, perfect for the background as you rack your brain for a solution.

Now, I won’t sit here and lie to you and say I solved every possible puzzle on my own, as I did have to look up a few solutions online later on, namely for: Willow; Rob, James, and Matthew; and Zoe and Richard. However, I did do the bulk of them unassisted, and it feels great to see your finished snowman. The trick is figuring out how to roll each ball to the appropriate size, and your limits are often dealing with a small amount of space to do this, as well as only so much snow to get the job done. I eventually learned that you can leave the puzzle are and return to it from a different direction, which helped a lot, as did rolling balls in top of each other and then off each other. There’s quite a bit going on in this rather adorable-looking puzzle game.

It’s pretty short; I finished A Good Snowman is Hard to Build in a few hours, in two different sittings. Evidently, after finishing all the main puzzles, you get access to some sort of alternative universe, which I walked around in for a bit, but couldn’t seem to figure out what to do next. Maybe there are even more puzzles to complete. Oh well, spring is coming, and the snowmen will eventually melt away, leaving no trace behind but a small puddle. Maybe next winter.

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2019 Game Review Haiku, #5 – The Doll Shop

Desolate village
Dolls are family, secrets
Charmingly creepy

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.

Here’s all the big and small games I completed in 2018

My plan for 2018 was to continue with my mega-, ultra-popular format of writing a haiku when I completed a game, but also throwing in some of my original artwork into the mix. I started strong, but by the time I got admitted to the hospital and got diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in July, my focus quickly changed to other projects. Heck, I didn’t even continue on with just artless-haikus. Well, that’s a bummer. I still did manage to keep a list of all the games I finished off, in case you are curious. It’s definitely smaller than previous years, but I’m fine with that.

Right. Here, check ’em out:

*** – came out in calendar year 2018

1. Tales from Space: Mutant Blobs Attack
2. Samantha Swift and the Hidden Roses of Athena
3. Where is 2018? ***
4. Wolfenstein: The New Order
5. 2000:1: A Space Felony
6. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara
7. Hitchhiker: First Ride ***
8. Echoed World
9. Sprout
10. Back to the Future: The Game
11. Banyu Lintar Angin – Little Storm
12. A Raven Monologue ***
13. THOR.N
14. Robin ***
15. Quiet City
16. All Our Asias ***
17. Assassin’s Creed: Revelations
18. Legendary Gary ***
19. ERROR: Human Not Found ***
20. Packing Up the Rest of Your Stuff on the Last Day at Your Old Apartment
21. Brave: The Video Game
22. Dord ***
23. SUPERHOT
24. The Flood ***
25. Garden of Oblivion ***
26. Late Night Wanderer
27. In the Hollow of the Valley
28. Grim Legends 2: Song of the Dark Swan
29. Umfend ***
30. How to Cope with Boredom and Loneliness
31. Quidget the Wonderwiener
32. I’ll Take You To Tomato Town
33. Thirty Flights of Loving
34. Marie’s Room ***
34. Chairs for Bashir ***
35. LEGO Jurassic World
36. Subject 13
37. Korgan (Prologue) ***
38. Frightened Beetles ***
39. Sol705
40. A Day in the Lie
41. YOU LEFT ME
42. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes
43. Friday the 13th: Killer Puzzle ***
44. Prey
45. Wolfenstein: The Old Blood
45. Roses & Heart ***
46. Anodyne
47. Escape from Jig
48. Borgo the Cat
49. Mark of the Ninja: Remastered ***
50. Burly Men At Sea
51. Azurael’s Circle: Chapter 1
52. LEGO City Undercover
53. Spyro: Reignited Trilogy ***

Phew. Not bad, not bad.

And with that, I’ll be continuing to write haikus for the games I complete in 2019, but I’m not going to stress about including artwork this time. Stay tuned for one tomorrow because I always like to beat something on the first day of the new year. It’ll likely be a tiny, indie thing, but hey, it still counts.

Also, while we’re here, let me list a few games that I’d really like to polish off in 2019, and yeah, some of these are repeats from previous day-dream sessions, but I am still determined to get the job done: EarthBound, Suikoden 3, Radiant Historia, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and more than a dozen of games I can’t remember that I got on either Steam, GOG, itch.io, the Twitch app, the Xbox app for Windows, Blizzard’s app (I evidently have a free copy of Destiny 2 in there, just waiting for me to dive deep into it, if it’ll run at all on my laptop), and the Epic Games launcher, which I have not yet installed, but probably will at some point because I truly don’t have enough free games to play. Ugh.

See y’all next year!

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.

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.