American McGee’s Grimm

252150_2014-01-20_00017So here’s a title I really thought I would like.

American McGee’s Grimm: A game where you transform happy saccharine fairy tales into darker versions more closely resembling their Grimm roots.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

Who doesn’t love stark reimaginings of old favorites? The cinema was exploding with them for a while and tv series like Once Upon a Time, Supernatural, and Sleepy Hollow have done exceptionally well with starker retellings of the classics. If that wasn’t enough to sell me, it has the “American McGee” seal slapped all over it, and I loved the Alice games!

…Before I get into it, let’s start positive. The good points first. A pat on the head followed by bloody evisceration, as it were.252150_2014-01-20_00004

The voice acting is pretty well done, with most of the dialogue originating from our diabolical little narrator, Grimm. He delivers a gruff, exceedingly accented account of each fairy tale and excels equally in dripping disdain for the cheery originals and reveling in the revolting results of a reimagined story.

The art style is also engaging, and is actually one of the aspects that drew me to the game. From the cutscenes to the graphics in actual gameplay, everything looks like a mixture between paper puppets and pop-out books. The darker characters and settings are striking, stylized, and exactly what I expect from American McGee, master of the macabre.

So what’s my hang up?

Well peeing on everything, for one.

Yeah, you heard me.

Peeing.

On everything.

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Oh wait. I forgot. You can “buttstomp”, too.

These are the game’s main mechanics, I shit you not. You turn the world dark not by some evil masterminding. Not by cleverly planting seeds of dreariness. Not by sabotaging plot points….but by urinating and smashing things with your ass.

I can only assume I’m not  the target demographic.

What makes it worse is that you somehow manage to convince yourself that you’re not in fact the wonderful whizz-ard mid-game, that voiceover I mentioned earlier will butt in (excuse the pun) and command that you “make it nasty,” “make it smelly,” and most nerve gratingly to “buttstomp it!”

It gets old very, very quickly.

Based on the first two stories, I can also say that the platforming is very, very limited and not at all challenging, which left the game feeling very repetitive and, well, boring.

The only pay-offs for all your bladder-emptying, bottom-bruising efforts are the revised cutscenes at the completion of each episode, and the transition animations your rampage creates. The former take more effort than they’re worth (and we’ll get to their worth in a moment), and the latter quickly become repetitive as well.

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Now before apologists get their panties in a twist, I am no stranger to dark humor. I downloaded this game looking for dark humor. I know dark humor, he’s a friend of mine, and this is not dark humor.

This is peeing and making violence, and if that sounds dumb it’s only because it is.

There is, to corrupt a phrase, no meaning to the madness. No reason for the mayhem.

The  story, the reason that we as players should care, is beyond unfulfilling– and ultimately that is why this game is garbage.grimm

As a player, I have no reason to make these stories awful, and believe me–I tried!! I tried concocting my own backstory for the awful, dirty goblin I was controlling  in order to make what I was doing have some sense or meaning. Maybe these protagonists had shunned me after their happily ever after. Maybe for every light, happy thing in their world, my horrible goblinkin suffered and died offscreen. Maybe I was jealous of the sunshine laden, happy-ending fairy tales because I had found myself (perhaps for good reason) forever alone! Maybe I was the force of yang to their yin, balancing out light and dark for the sake of the universe!!

Honestly, if I could have bought any of that or if the game had even tried to extrapolate on my motivations, I might have stomached another story or two.

As it was, I just…didn’t get any joy from my own actions. If violence was my reward, if these grim re-imaginings were supposed to compel me to make more…it failed.

Miserably.

Let me give you an example:

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In the first story, there is a chapter where the titular boy who didn’t know fear is confronted with the case of a stolen bell. The teacher decides that all the children should get a whipping for taking it when the boy points out that green corrosion from the bell is on the schoolmasters hands. In the original tale, all is forgiven and everyone goes their merry way.

…The game decides we should change that and so we begin peeing all over the school yard, eventually transforming the lush, happy landscape into one rife with bodies. Yes, call me a prude, but I’m really not jumping for joy over dead kid bodies. Especially when I have no indication that I have any reason to want to see them.

I will remind the game now, as I did when playing, the kids did nothing wrong in the original story. If anything, I was making them vengeful little moblets…but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Anyways, once you build up your Grimm power or whatever, you can eventually turn the mobile children into matchsticks. Once you’ve gotten them all, the matchsticks gather around the schoolmaster, now tied to a stake. You are commanded to buttstomp the site and by doing so compel the incendiary childsticks  to burn the bell thief alive.252150_2014-01-20_00003

The moral? People aren’t forgiving and mob mentality ends in a punishment far more severe than the crime.

emote sulkAwesome. I feel dirty. Thanks game.

I could go on about why the story and lack of motivation kills the game for pages, but beating a dead horse is what it would want me to do, so I won’t.
See schadenfreude is a thing and so is catharsis. However for the first to be effective in a game, you have to enjoy the suffering. In order to enjoy suffering, most non-sociopaths need to feel that the sufferer has it coming. Slasher movies tend to do this very well. They pick a cast of unlikeable assholes and we, as an audience, revel in watching them get their comeuppance. In order for catharsis to work…well, to cut out a lot of verbiage, your general audience won’t get much of that out of vicariously acting like a malicious douche-nozzle for no good reason.

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I…like the art of this game. I really tried to like the game itself because I generally like the genre.

Mindbogglingly enough, there are 3 seasons of 7 or 8 stories each in this series. Old news as the last season launched in 2009, but still…

The bottom line is that I don’t get this game. I don’t see any joy in it. I don’t find it fun or even challenging. I can only assume that it’s acheived success on the coin of eight year old boys who think they’re edgy because it’s so horrid.

If you like it, more power to you. I judge only a little and I judge only because, for me,  this game did the opposite of what games are supposed to do. It didn’t entertain me, it vexed me. It didn’t leave me feeling good, or even wondering why I wasted money on it… It just left me  feeling awful for peeing on all those birds and making them split into quarters.

So after so much ranting and raving, how to bring this sordid tale to a close?

miss-bone-250Remy deleted Grimm from her hard drive and lived happily ever after.

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Grateful 365 #6 – The Walking Dead Video Game

TWD-game-the-walking-dead-game-telltale-games

Damn you Telltale.
It hurts so good that I love you.
I love you so badly it hurts.

I meant to do a grateful post and then a review and then a decision breakdown and analysis.

Somehow I managed to make the first two one post unintentionally.

Super short version?

I LOVE THIS GAME.

Slightly longer short version?

Sometimes either chemo or neulasta or both make sleep hard. Often it’s easy to resent that fact.

This game took one of my uncomfortable-to-be-alive nights and turned it into a reason to play a game.

That game got me so emotionally involved that it carried me out of myself and into a story.

While trying to hold myself together, it urged me to concentrate on, care for, and cry for something else entirely.

Catharsis is a beautiful thing.

This is more than a game to me, and many others. It’s escapism at it’s finest. It’s an experience. It’s nouveau tragedy done right.

It’s art.

Click above for “Take Us Back” by Alela Diane, the haunting end credit song from The Walking Dead.

Preface


It seems that there are a good number of people who like The Walking Dead TV series, and several representatives among my friend-group have insinuated in the past that I probably would too.

Bandwagoning aside, I tend to trust my friends on these kinds of things. They get me.

However, I tried The Walking Dead (the show) awhile back and found it– well– boring. Sure, it was set where I live. Yes, it’s really cool to see recognizable landmarks on screen. Hell, there’s still a chance that I might revisit the series one day and give it more than 2 episodes to build momentum and catch my interest.

When I heard about the game by Telltale, I wasn’t really given the chance to even contemplate skepticism.

When I was hearing about it prior to the final chapter dropping, it was like someone recounting “Hey, this one time when it was the zombie apocalypse-“. It wasn’t “some game,” it was an experience they were having and had to put on hold between chapters.

Excitement built until the final chapter was finally released, and at that point it seemed like an iron curtain descended. The obvious emotional investment was still there, but they could only say so much.

Them: “Oh. My. God….This game, man. I may never be the same…”

Me: “Really? You finally finished it?”

Them: (hollowly) “Yeah.”

Me: “So? How was it? Anything funny happen? That character you didn’t like get turned into zombie kibble?”

Them: “Dude- SO good. And Ben? I can’t even….the ending it just. It…holy shit. SO good, but, man…..”

Me: “…that told me a sum total of nothing. What happened?! Why is it so good?! Why do your eyes look haunted right now??”

Them: “NO.”

Me: (Blinks in surprise) “…No?”

Them: “I WILL NOT ruin it for you.”

Me: “-but I may never play i-”

Them: “NO. Just no. I can’t.”

All they would tell me is that it hit hard and fast and in every single one of the feels.

I was beyond intrigued.

At the time though, I wasn’t really playing many video games. (Time constraints, y’know?)

Time passed and with the game ended, I pretty much just forgot about it.

It was around the time when I started having my first medical issues that I received some giftcards for Steam- an online gaming store/library/community.

It was easy incentive to log on and go shopping.

It wasn’t long before I rediscovered the beauty of losing myself in a game. We’ll leave other titles for another time, but it wasn’t until December that I remembered the topic of this post.

Video Games Awesome, a series that I can guarantee I will likely post about next recovery week, had their Christmas Special. At the end of that special?

The Walking Dead: Season 2, Chapter 1.

Not because it was happy. Not because it was Christmassy.

They played it because the fan outcry was SO enormous and it was newly released.

It only took me hearing them discuss it to start looking up the title on Steam as they went.

There it was. And there was all of Season One. And there was the remainder of my gift cards in my wallet.

I watched most of the playthrough, but looking back the only thing I really gained was an appreciation for how much they loved this little pigtailed protagonist. I wanted to know WHY.

Desperately.

I love you Clem~! >w<

I love you Clem~! >w<


The Walking Dead Season One – Gameplay


I purchased that night, but I didn’t download or play until about three days ago.

It begins like a movie and in medias res (more on that in “Story”).

You meet yourself, learn the game’s premise and get the basic controls of the game.

These controls fall into two categories: timed multiple choice questions and quicktime events. It’s a unique recipe for a unique style of game-

This is not survival horror.

This is not FPS.

This is not even an “interactive story” in the way that many dating sims, eroge, or other interpersonal dialogue driven (generally Japanese) games are.

If I could coin a term, I’d call it tailored atmospheric action role play.

Shorthand? This is decision driven roleplay with quicktime action.

Quicktime? I hear you say.

Yes, but don’t close the browser yet, okay?

Let’s start at the “atmospheric” and “role play” portion, shall we? Earlier I mentioned dating sims and eroge. I’m sure that there are other genres out there with similar mechanics, but these happen to be what I’m familar with.

Generally speaking, these genres use player dialogue choices to determine one of several preset outcomes of the story. You play coy during dialogue choices with Aki and then (rather than him taking you to the dance Saturday) you find yourself on the progression line to a run-in with Hikari down at the train station.

The Walking Dead utilizes this mechanic by allowing you to choose how the protagonist, Lee, will interact with those he meets. If you leave a certain option on, a small pop-up will appear when you make a decision that may alter the course of the story.

Kenny will remember that...

Kenny will remember that…

How others in the story treat you will also be affected.

Also: your decisions are timed.

(I’m not entirely sure still what happens if you choose nothing in time, but I think you remain silent. (I don’t know why I was so terrified of it happening, looking back. I guess I was afraid that Lee would implode if I didn’t pick an answer before the white bar ran out!) )

Every now and then there are MAJOR turning points. These turning points are displayed in a graph at the end of each chapter, allowing you to see how your decisions compared to the rest of the player base. If nothing else, it’s an interesting feature that invites you to examine either your playstyle or personality…or maybe both.

Most action sequences involve mouseclicking a highlightable target before the computer deems your attempts at hand/eye coordination a joke. These moments are often followed by a queue to tap one key frantically and then prove you’re paying attention by awkwardly jamming your finger into another key. (QQQQQQQQQQQQQQQQ E!!! for most PC players.)

QQQQQQQE

Frustrating? Sometimes.

Hear me out though– there is something about a scripted event requiring you to a)assess b)recognize and c) respond that accelerates your heart, boosts your adrenaline and makes you feel accountable. Sit behind someone playing this game and wait for these moments.

Should they fail (and oh, they will fail sooner or later), it will be a string of curses followed by an enraged deluge of excuses. We, as players, don’t want our character to die. When it happens because we weren’t observant or quick enough…it doesn’t feel good. The gory death sequences ensure that you’ll want to get it right next go.

In context, with the atmosphere the game builds, quicktime events are effective.

Yes. I said effective.

I will not say that they aren’t annoying as an out of tune kazoo at times. They certainly can be.

They can break the flow of the story. They can bring you out of the experience. They can piss all over your parade.

…And in some sick, stupid way that’s what makes them work – after awhile, you FEAR them.

On a side note, the autosave is well executed and you rarely have to play back extraneous portions of the game after death. There’s also a super convenient “copy save slot” if you’d like to explore multiple choices.


The Walking Dead Season One – Story


Guys, if I haven’t convinced you to pick up this game yet– please, please read the following section carefully.

I love this game. This game is easily one of my favorites I’ve played EVER.

You begin as a person you know nothing about and then BUILD your own personality as you play. Most characters are CHARACTERS and not ‘extras,’ ‘filler’ or ‘fodder’. You come to care about people as you pick sides. You grow into your role. You see obvious (sometimes fatal!) consequences of every action and the end screens remind you that the story could have gone differently had you chosen otherwise.

The story is engaging, exciting, and atmospheric.

For me, it was especially strong because I live in Georgia. I know the places they visited and recognized buildings and landscapes.

Even if you don’t know the area, you begin to feel safe in certain areas and apprehensive in others. You become immersed and once you play through a chapter, it’s excruciatingly hard to stop there.

That said there are flaws.

#1 Uneven Decision Weighting

Every now and again–even if you’ve picked every “good” answer for a certain character– one of those major plot points will crop up. Choose wrong and suddenly your buddy will seem to forget everything else that’s transpired and turn against you.

#2 Weird or Misleading Choice Wording

Whoa guys, hold on! I thought I picked "everyone take a deep soothing breath- yes, I know it sounded like 'he's stealing, she's a slut and all your momma's smell like feet,' you got my sentiment, right?  ...guys??"

Whoa guys, hold on!
I swear I picked “Everyone take a deep soothing breath”
Yeah, I know it sounded like “Everyone take a deep soothing breath because Kenny said your momma smells like cheese and your daddy’s starting to rot,”  but that’s not what I meant!!

Sometimes you read something one way, select it, and the resulting dialogue is NOT what you’d intended.

For example:

“He’s bit. Get him out of this house!”

a) “No. He stays.”

b) “Yeah, you’ve got a point.”

c) “What would you do if he was your brother?”

d)”Everyone calm down!”

Let’s say you’re trying to keep the peace and pick “d”. Lee might say the following, “Everyone calm down! Listen, I know it’s not easy to hear, but he’s going to turn. We have to do what’s best for the group and get him out NOW.”

…WHAT??? I didn’t want to boot him out the door, I just wanted to make everyone stop yelling until we figured out whether or not he was bitten!!!

or c) “What would you do if he was your brother? Would you just throw him out to become one of them before you knew for sure? What kind of selfish sack of shit are you?!”

…O>O whoa, whoa, whoa!!! I thought we’d be engaging his empathy here, Lee– not trying to encite a fist-fight! What the hell, man?!!

In a game dependent on the idea of free choice, this can be really irritating.

#3 Fated Events

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Sometimes bad shit happens to good people. Real facts.

However, in a game where free choice is key, it can be really upsetting to try your damndest to protect/kill/discourage/encourage/ etc. another character only to realize a few hours later that their destiny was written regardless of what decisions you had made.

I lost someone I saved in chapter 1 in literally the blink of an eye…and it was shocking.

On the one hand, it was phenomenal. No one is safe to the whims of fate.

On the other, it was discouraging. No matter how I play, certain prompts in the plot WILL happen.

Great if you’re a fatalist, but not so good if it happens too often.


The Walking Dead Seaon One- The Payoff


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In before the spoilers. (Don’t worry, that’s another post!)

I’ll level with you here: The Walking Dead has moments when your heart will warm with affection for the characters and, given the right decisions, your opinion of mankind in its darkest hour might elevate to something like admiration or hope.

There were many scenes that made me smile, laugh, shake my head, and fall in love with the fiction I was interacting with.

However, this isn’t Disney, it’s the Brothers Grimm.

It’s the zombie apocalypse, and Telltale Games make a point of driving the most painful aspects of that home.

You may not cry, but if you leave the final chapter unaffected, you were guarding yourself and denying that oh-so-beautiful catharsis this game can deliver if you let it.

It has the best of humanity (or it’s potential. it’s play dependent.) at it’s heart, and because it understands that goodness it expertly exploits, endangers, and ultimately decimates you emotionally.

It. Is. A. Tragedy.

A good one because what you stand to lose– the stakes if you will– are central to the plot from beginning to end.

There is no McGuffin, because you have the important thing with you all along.

The final choice is fated, unchangeable, and puts your two primary goals in direct opposition with each other.

The last scene? I stand by each and every word I chose and decision I made.

I had been in pain prior to deciding to stay up all night playing, and was likely still in pain.

…but I don’t remember how my body felt when I finished.

I went into my final chapter with everyone. I’m proud of that, actually.

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Didn’t I say we’re strongest together?!

I lost people along the way, and while I played 90% of the game by “no take-backs” rule of thumb, during that final chapter, I made some exceptions.  Truth be told- the second I saw what might happen to my friends, my wards, my family– The second I feared I might lose them in these final moments, I quickly backed out in an attempt to see if a different choice might save them.

I couldn’t help it.

We’d come too far.

Flaws. Fights. Feuds. Whatever–!

I had played Lee like I hoped I’d behave…with one exception that I didn’t correct. It had been a choice. I made a choice…. and while it was pragmatically correct, it was morally wrong. I left it though because I played it like I might have lived it.

Mistakes and all.

It’s that kind of thing that pulls you in and makes the ever nearing end that much more suspenseful and poignant. You, on some level at least, become Lee.

I was so engrossed in the game that anything my actual nerves were telling me were either ignored or incorporated.

I remember how 2am felt, but at 6am I don’t remember how I was.

I remember the state of my heart and the beautifully rendered expressions on my character’s face though.

I remember how Ben and Kenny and Lee and Clem were.

And oh, I cried.

Crosslegged on the bed, encapsulated in pillows and melted icepacks and blankets, a disgruntled cat on either side and no light save the dark glow of The Walking Dead on my face… I clicked and I wept without shame.

I clicked through my options and I spoke my chosen words to the screen in an encouraging whisper. I tried to keep a stiff upper lip.

(For her sake, y’know?)

I wished wellness and safety and strength to a person that didn’t exist…

And doing so, I vicariously made myself stronger for her sake.

So that’s 2000 odd words about why I’m grateful to have this game.

2000 odd words that I hope might have convinced someone to give it a chance.

2000 odd words that are an earnest wish that more games like this be made.

I’ve played a lot of games, and while easily entertained, I’m not so easily moved.

Thanks The Walking Dead Season One.

I’m not done with you yet as a topic for writing, but today, I’m certainly grateful for your reprieve from reality.

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Grateful 365 #5 – Blank Slates (and nostalgic MMORPGs)

I play video games, but I’ve never really considered myself much of a ‘gamer’. I tend to shy away from consoles, favor rhythm and rp genres, and have been a proud member of WoW anonymous for years now.

…after spending a year or more as an officer of a raiding guild.
Y’know.
Like you do….

Wait. Wait. This is 365 grateful/100happy days isn’t it?
So screw the nerd shaming!

I was a proud, important member of Clarion Call on Skullcrusher from 2008 to 2011 in the halcyon days of the game! I helped make this:

I healed those raids. I worked for that gear. I researched specs and did math I didn’t want to for the good of the guild. We were a team. We were and are friends and it WAS an adventure! And it was a hell of a lot of fun.

Am I sad I quit?
No.
Yes.
…Sorta…

Okay, so I’m a little torn. On the one hand, I have a lot more free time, sure… but I wish I’d kept up with my friends better. Gregorin especially helped me chase that writing bug. Kracky always had my back before I even joined CC. Gallenheart & Crane were my late night conversation partners and as good at listening to whatever was on my mind as they were at being top notch tanks and healers. Man, the nostalgia is intense. Tyrantor, Garbrac, Crittin…I know there were more and I hate that I’ve forgotten.

Of the entire internet, only 9 other people remember this...

OMG do you guys remember that time Remy and Ty freaking 2-Manned Heigan after the rest of the raid wiped to the waves???
F@#$*^& EPIC!!!!

But yeah. I haven’t looked at another mmorpg since I walked away from WoW…probably BECAUSE I have such fond memories. I’ve heard I got out at a good time. I’ve heard that Cataclysm was just that.

I know nothing with any certainty though because it was so good while I was in it that I fear anything less than that cameraderie, that high level raiding, that quality of guild will disappoint me.

(This is turning into more of a review than a 365 post! Sorry!)

So what am I grateful for that I would bring all that up? What could have sparked my interest in nostalgic topics like these in the midst of my ‘recovery week’?
THIS:

Hello Neverwinter...would you like to be my friend?

Hello Neverwinter…would you like to be my friend?

Well…a blank slate. The character creation screen of a new game. A brand spanking new mmorpg with a terrifyingly, excitingly unfamiliar playstyle, HUD, and mechanics. It’s based on Dungeons and Dragons and called Neverwinter Online.

Sure the cinematic is gripping, but see that screen with the terrible flash reflection? I could make anything! Maybe a tiefling devoted cleric just to mess with the statis quo. Maybe a drow control wizard. Maybe a halfling trickster rogue!

It’s all based on 3.5 rules if I’m not mistaken, and even the customization slots encourage you to think about where your character’s been and where they’re going. If this game proves worthy enough to hold my attention, a full review will be forthcoming.

Until then, I’m grateful for the nostalgia of my beloved WoW days and the excitement and ‘fresh character’ smell a blank start page brings!

~all the love~

Suffering from an Excess of Free Time? There’s an App for That.

Recently, I  was fortunate enough to receive a free piece of technology thanks to sheer luck, online procrastination, and a corporation that decided to trade off  iPad Minis for advertising.

Normally, I’d be super grateful– and don’t get me wrong, I am– but for once I feel legitimized in being a jerk because the corporation in question just happens to, ironically, be one that had kinda screwed me over in the past.

So Ha-Ha! In their FACES!!! The fates have smiled on me and struck them down, right?? I mean, after all the grief I went through with Verizon in the past, I’m definitely not signing back up with them,  so they’ve made no gains from their gamble with me. …Although maybe they were aiming wider. Maybe they counted on me spreading the word via blog. …

...Clever bastards.

…Clever bastards.

Now, I mostly jest. Mostly. I personally dislike Verizon still, and as long as I’ve hopped on the jerk train I’ll add that I never much liked Apple either. The layout always confused me, and I wasn’t good at navigating or using it. (“I don’t want to go on a safari, I want to open the internet, dammit!!”) Therefore the only logical, even-handed solution was to conclude that all Apple products were the devil and also stupid.

How wrong I was. (About Apple, anyways.)

I’ve recently learned that one difference between apple as a fruit and Apple as technology is that while I would quickly throw one out if I received it for free in the mail (or via old lady. Witches be tripping, yo), the other I would keep by my side daily until the end of time.

I’ve also recently learned that apps on the iPad Mini are kind of freaking amazing. I’ve also realized that they are dangerously entertaining and could easily suck the free time out of me with the speed and tenacity of mosquitoes at a swamp side nude beach.

So, in the fashion of old-fashion chain letters, I plan on ridding myself of this curse by sharing it with the world!

My Favorite iPad games (right now):

Kingdoms of Zenia: Dragon Wars: imageImagine if Farmville and Warcraft had a one night stand in Middle Earth… Sprinkle that with blue meth and stir in any friend that uses apple, and that might get you close to what this thing is like. Half civilization simulator, half rts, half rpg-esque grind machine, and all mind-numbing addiction. This is one of those online games that requires you check in a few times per day to harvest various materials and boost your friend’s productions. While you’re there, you might as well build up your kingdom, or complete a few challenges, maybe save the world by battle questing, or refuel your troop supply. Along with the typical civilization building rigamarole, the battle portion of the game employs some strategy as you recruit and arrange various melee and distance troops before battle. It also offers the option to engage in some PvP “raiding” as well. This game is easy to put down, but hard to leave alone.


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At least one minion is happy.

Pocket Minions 

I…I don’t even know what to call it besides cute. You control tiny little people and try to use your resources to build your castle higher and higher. You only have so many resources to build rooms. Certain rooms recruit certain minions. Certain minions make certain resources. All minions require certain things (like toilets and furnaces) to remain happy. That’s the short version of the rules, really. It involves limited strategy and a lot of free time. You have to collect resources from the cute tiny people manually though, and that cuts down on how addictive it actually is. I’m currently uninterested after completing two towers, but those two towers were a lot of fun to raise up.


Miku Flick & Miku Flick/02 image

So. Much. Love! This is a super addictive take on the usual rhythm games featuring songs and video from the Vocaloid series of synthetic singers. In the flick series, not only do you tap in rhythm, but you have to find the consonant in a 9 panel array and then flick in the direction of the vowel. Needless to say, this ups the ante on concentration and difficulty, but with fluid, intuitive gameplay it adds up to a really rewarding challenge. For those interested in improving hiragana recognition, it’s AMAZING as it has three modes for the phonetics: kana, roman alphabet, and a combination mode. Both titles cost money to play, but are well worth it. Flick/02 is my favorite at the moment, purely because it features characters like Luka, Meiko, Kaito, and the Kagamine twins rather than just Miku. Progression unlocks additional songs and modes, and there are song packs available for purchase if you get bored with what’s available. All the featured songs also have background music videos featuring the characters, as well as stand alone PVs and a karaoke mode you can access when you’re not in the mood to play! <33


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I’m just a little boy!!

Limbo

I remember the buzz when this game first hit Steam way back when, and was super excited when I saw that it was available on iOS. It’s everything I expected from the trailers– dark, highly stylized, haunting… An absolutely unique, puzzle based platformer that immerses you in the struggles of a young boy trapped in an ominous world. My only complaint is that the controls, especially the jump controls, can be a little sticky at times with the touch system. …There’s nothing more frustrating then having your poor little shadow boy brutally decapitated because your touch screen decided that you wanted to walk INTO the bear trap rather than jump OVER it. Other than that– absolutely gorgeous. (PS. Spiders are horrifying, and those other shadow kids are dicks. :P)


Infinity Blade

imageHoly crap…do you see that graphic? I saw that graphic. I saw that graphic and then bought this 5 dollar-ish game without knowing anything about it. I’m glad I did. Infinity Blade is dazzling visually and has one of the best shield and sword combat systems I’ve ever played with. Each battle calls on you to observe and react to your opponent’s attacks by either dodging, blocking, or parrying. Certain chains of these tactics will cause a break in your enemy’s defense and allow you to unleash chains of directional attacks, magic, and special moves. There’s a fruit ninja like quality once you do hit an opening, but it’s still very satisfying to unleash some furious slice and dicing. Infinity Blade also has a strong RPG element and an interesting storyline. The final boss appears relatively quickly, and the odds seem insurmountable…and are. Upon losing, you return to the opening screen 19-21 years later as your own progeny (fortunately, the new, youthful Swordy McSlash-Slash has kept all the armor and upgrades you had previously), and proceed to go forth in an attempt to avenge your father. Sure it sounds repetitive, but at Bloodline #4 the updated enemies and increasing familiarity with the game mechanics have continued to keep me entertained.


Paper 53

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  I’m not sure if this app appeals to the super artsy, but for the aspiring artsy type (like me!), it’s a really neat little utility.

Half fingerpaint, a quarter microsoft paint, and a quarter photoshop, Paper 53 acts as a fun, interactive toolbox and canvas combo with a lot of features and abilities that scale with talent and practice. The interface is straightforward, and there are multiple albums to help sort and store doodles, daydreams, and legitimate attempts at making something you might one day want to show another living being.

So yes- I dig this app. I use this app. I’m in awe of some of the things I’ve seen from really talented people using this app. …But I will make one caveat here– for a free app, this one sure isn’t. 

Yeah, yeah– you can download the bare bones for free, but see the picture? That’s what you get.

Background and a pencil.

… Have…fun?

As it comes, I think the app would hold my interest for about half a blink, but with upgrades it becomes much, much more. For under 15 dollars, you get markers, pencils, paint (my favorite~!), and a color blender…and even if you happen to be not-so-artistically inclined like me, it’s awesome enough to make you feel pretty alright about your imagineering made pixeled.


So at the moment, these are the titles I’ve chosen to while away my free time with~!

If you frequently find yourself beleaguered with an excess of free time, they might just be the tickets to blissful preoccupation (or even procrastination~!)

Game on~!