Video Game Review: Baba Is You

Picking a puzzle game in this day and age is hard; there are so many different puzzle games out there, with varying degrees of messing around with “the meta” and conventional views of what constitutes a puzzle. One such game is Baba Is You, which sees you take on the role of a little sheep-like creature called Baba. You move around and push obstacles, but your main goal of the game is to win. How do you win? Well that depends on what the rules of the level is… And rules aren’t set in stone in this game. Sometimes, to beat a level, you have to change the rules a bit. Intriguing? It certainly caught my attention!

Picking a puzzle game in this day and age is hard; there are so many different puzzle games out there, with varying degrees of messing around with “the meta” and conventional views of what constitutes a puzzle. One such game is Baba Is You, which sees you take on the role of a little sheep-like creature called Baba. You move around and push obstacles, but your main goal of the game is to win. How do you win? Well that depends on what the rules of the level is… And rules aren’t set in stone in this game. Sometimes, to beat a level, you have to change the rules a bit. Intriguing? It certainly caught my attention!

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Mobile Game Review – The Elder Scrolls: Blades

Ah The Elder Scrolls, it feels like I can’t go more than a couple of hours without booting up one of the franchise. I’m forever playing The Elder Scrolls Online, last year I 100% completed Skyrim and I’ve gone through Oblivion, Morrowind and even Arena. Yes, The Elder Scrolls is a franchise that I can’t pull myself away from. So occasionally, I turn to my mobile for a spot to get away from Bethesda and their affiliated partners, such as ZeniMax Online Studios. Let’s go to Google Play and install a new action game. Blades? That sounds fun… Oh no, it’s another title in the huge world of The Elder Scrolls and now it’s on mobile.

Ah The Elder Scrolls, it feels like I can’t go more than a couple of hours without booting up one of the franchise. I’m forever playing The Elder Scrolls Online, last year I 100% completed Skyrim and I’ve gone through Oblivion, Morrowind and even Arena. Yes, The Elder Scrolls is a franchise that I can’t pull myself away from. So occasionally, I turn to my mobile for a spot to get away from Bethesda and their affiliated partners, such as ZeniMax Online Studios. Let’s go to Google Play and install a new action game. Blades? That sounds fun… Oh no, it’s another title in the huge world of The Elder Scrolls and now it’s on mobile.

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Review – Eberron: Rising From the Last War

Hmm… ok…

Eberron is certainly the first and may be the only campaign setting to see a physical print in fifth edition. While the edition as a whole has held up Forgotten Realms for campaigns, and of course draws a great deal upon Dragonlance and Greyhawk to build a “core” of information, cosmology, gods, and history, the big settings have received little supportive nods here and there in sidebars and appendices and the like, but Eberron has also seen some pretty thorough Unearthed Arcana support, followed by a small, cheapish pdf publication late last year… or maybe early this year? I forget, I’ve been busy.

Rising from the Last War is double the length in terms of pages, with written content padded out with artificer rules only slightly modified from the last playtest edition, some pretty artwork, a few rule ideas, monster statblocks, and a few extended descriptions of factions, regions, history, and essential details.

Which begs the question… is it worth it?

 

Financially, that’s a maybe, the books aren’t cheap, let’s be realistic here. If you bought the Wayfinder’s Guide (the pdf I was talking about) you might have enough, but it’s better if you have access to some of the third edition lore books that can help pad out Keith Baker’s world with locations and people, although it’s not strictly necessary, just interesting.

In terms of content, well certainly the new book has some rules updates, and while I haven’t been through everything yet there’s certainly a few notable examples I’ve picked out.

Warforged rules have been altered, although I might argue that the rules from either book are balanced sufficiently to use, and given the manufactured nature of warforged I’d also make the case that you could use either rule-set in any given game, rather than choosing one or the other. Changelings have been simplified, perhaps diminished having lost an ability that makes them a little harder to hit, Kalashtar don’t appear changed from a quick once-over, and Shifters have been altered a little to make them notably more diverse depending on the subtype. On the subject of racial rules, the rules for building dragonmarked characters have been altered, and certainly the new rules seem simplified, but I’m still undecided on which rules I prefer.

So far as the artificer goes, I have to say that the artwork really helps bring the subclasses to life, I wasn’t entirely certain about translating some of the rules into narrative components. Seeing things like the alchemical homunculus and the artillerist’s collection of wands given artwork is far more evocative, and I say this as someone who loves artificers whatever the edition.

Points of interest, there is a section on choosing a patron that reads as advice for players and dungeon masters alike, and I love the notion of using it as part of a session zero character building discussion because it gives players ideas on the kind of games available to them and what kind of world they’re stepping into. If you run a game that’s faction-heavy it’s easily worth a read for ideas on how to market those factions to your players.

In terms of building the themes of the major continent, Khorvairre, I love the flavour texts. Where previous books have included annotations from famous NPCs, here we have newspaper cuttings to drive home the modernity of Eberron life. Propaganda pieces, inflammatory and fear-mongering snippets that read like they were written to panic the populus, but instead give the DMs and players some twisted ideas. Tales of drug abuse in the city of towers, living weapons and armour forged in the dwarven annex – the Mror Holds – painted as grotesque abominations, but written in a paper sold to the nation that raised its own dead in the last war.

Certainly the book goes into far greater detail than the Wayfinder’s Guide, and presumably it supersedes the majority of the content being the newer publication, and while I’ll never be satisfied with the amount of detail (having read most of the Eberron companion books from 3.5) it’s certainly quite a thorough volume, and to go properly in-depth would have required a far bigger, and more expensive book. I was also saddened by the absence of psionic rules, however…

A new Unearthed Arcana came out recently giving subclass options for fighters, rogues, and wizards, that focus on psionic power, and Eberron is not the only major campaign setting that could warrant a full-sized publication. There is another for whom psionics are a far bigger deal…

Mobile Game Review – The Powerpuff Girls: Monkey Mania

Fighting crime, trying to save the world, they’re now on android, The Powerpuff Girls: Monkey Mania! Would you believe it if I said that this is a decent game? Probably, because the people who made this game also brought us Knightmare Tower and Burrito Bison. A well crafted, beautifully presented game in the city of Townsville? It sounds like a match made in heaven… So here’s a bit of information for those who’ve seen it around but haven’t taken the dive into the world of sugar, spice and everything nice.

Fighting crime, trying to save the world, they’re now on android, The Powerpuff Girls: Monkey Mania! Would you believe it if I said that this is a decent game? Probably, because the people who made this game also brought us Knightmare Tower and Burrito Bison. A well crafted, beautifully presented game in the city of Townsville? It sounds like a match made in heaven… So here’s a bit of information for those who’ve seen it around but haven’t taken the dive into the world of sugar, spice and everything nice.

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Mobile Game Review: Mario Kart Tour

The first Mario Kart title, Super Mario Kart, was released back in 1992. In this time, we’ve seen many iterations, spanning many different consoles. Since the success of Pokémon Go, Nintendo has become a lot more interested in utilising mobile technologies. Super Mario Jump was great, but today, we’re going to check out Mario Kart Tour, which came out fairly recently. I managed to snap the game up on the day of release and hey, it’s another free title!

The first Mario Kart title, Super Mario Kart, was released back in 1992. In this time, we’ve seen many iterations, spanning many different consoles. Since the success of Pokémon Go, Nintendo has become a lot more interested in utilising mobile technologies. Super Mario Jump was great, but today, we’re going to check out Mario Kart Tour, which came out fairly recently. I managed to snap the game up on the day of release and hey, it’s another free title!

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Disenchantment Season 2

Matt Groening’s foray into fantasy dropped its second season this week.

Wow do I wish I had more to say. Usually when I review something I’ll be watching it again on the other screen while I write, but Lego Batman’s on Netflix now, so is the Between Two Ferns movie and those are two things I would rather watch! It’s nothing against Disenchantment… no, wait, it is, it’s definitely something against Disenchantment because so help me I do not recall anything that happened in the series that I watched three days ago!

Continuing the storyline that began in the first season and wrapping up the cliffhanger we left in in which Princess Tiabeanie “Bean” leaves Dreamland with her evil mother, oblivious to the fact that said mother is evil. Elfo the elf is dead, Luci the demon is stuck in a bottle, and all the people of Dreamland have been turned to stone, leaving King Zog alone to go mad. All of the above is wrapped up within a couple of episodes, and we learn who the shadowy figures were, Bean’s aunt and uncle.

We now get new plot threads, an elf conspiracy that goes nowhere except now all the elves have moved into the kingdom despite the fact that the city is a terrible place for them, and there’s an ever growing mess with the mother’s side of the family. But… I mean we’re not here for the story, right, we’re here for the comedy? Not sure what happened to that either to be honest.

In season one, Bean was a troubled and rebellious teen, she seems like she’s lost a lot of her zest, becoming a wooden peg on which the plot hangs. Elfo’s incredibly upbeat attitude has been tempered by cynicism with an upbeat delivery, which suits his character progression but loses his naive obliviousness. And Luci, who had been the main source of cynical comedy suddenly takes a backseat. King Zog is beaten down and humbled and clashes less with Bean which was half of his schtick. The first season was rife with jokes that didn’t so much subvert fantasy expectations as shine a massive spotlight on them, mixed with some excellent wordplay, with comical situations and characters.

This time around the jokes are few and far between, and the watering down of the characters only makes the whole thing more bland, and that’s the worst of it, it’s just underwhelming. Secondary characters are thrust forward to negligible effect I felt like Disenchantment was building to something, and I feel like it burned through a lot of the interesting questions pretty easily and left us without much to drag us into season three, if such a thing is coming.

And the worst part is… if it does, I still think I’ll watch it. There’s a cliffhanger, a mystery or two, and a likeability to the cast of characters that makes viewing all too easy. This is passive viewing at its most passive, while the humour is weakened, fewer laugh out loud moments, but it remains watchable and vaguely entertaining, especially if you watch both seasons back to back because there are a handful of running jokes that are forgettable but still kind of humorous, and there’s enough interesting narrative to keep you just barely engaged while I do something else on the other screen… like complain about what I’m watching!

It all nets to somewhere around “watchable”, or perhaps “bearable” but given the legacy it’s come from that makes it something of a disappointment. From the creators of Futurama and the Simpsons comes “more of the same”. Enjoy it if that’s what you want in life.

Melody’s Escape

Throughout my life, I haven’t been the best at rhythm games. I’m able to make a pretty good run at them when I’m in the right frame of mind but even then, my reactions to the on-screen prompts can be a bit off. Which, considering one of my favourite games of all time (The Binding of Isaac) has the potential to train lightning-fast reflexes into you, is a bit odd.

Nonetheless, given a flash sale and some Steam Wallet funds laying around – Thanks Joel – I decided to pick up a game that had caught my eye on visuals alone: Melody’s Escape

Throughout my life, I haven’t been the best at rhythm games. I’m able to make a pretty good run at them when I’m in the right frame of mind but even then, my reactions to the on-screen prompts can be a bit off. Which, considering one of my favourite games of all time (The Binding of Isaac) has the potential to train lightning-fast reflexes into you, is a bit odd.

Nonetheless, given a flash sale and some Steam Wallet funds laying around – Thanks Joel – I decided to pick up a game that had caught my eye on visuals alone: Melody’s Escape.

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Anime Review: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!

Magical girl anime is, admittedly, not something I’m hugely accustomed to. I saw a bit of Sailor Moon growing up and never really saw any more of the genre. So then when I was told that there was an anime by the name of Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, I laughed. I thought it was a brilliant name, albeit a little bit on the nose. So I looked it up, found that it was completely available on Crunchyroll and went “yeah, I guess I can give this a watch”. After all, what good is the magical girl genre, if we can’t get a magical boy anime?

Magical girl anime is, admittedly, not something I’m hugely accustomed to. I saw a bit of Sailor Moon growing up and never really saw any more of the genre. So then when I was told that there was an anime by the name of Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, I laughed. I thought it was a brilliant name, albeit a little bit on the nose. So I looked it up, found that it was completely available on Crunchyroll and went “yeah, I guess I can give this a watch”. After all, what good is the magical girl genre, if we can’t get a magical boy anime?

Continue reading “Anime Review: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!”

Ratchet and Clank Original Trilogy Retrospective Part 3

Ratchet and Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal – or just Ratchet and Clank 3 in other places – was released in 2004 on the PlayStation 2, once again one year after the game before it. The game opens with Ratchet and Clank enjoying life in the Bogon Galaxy, before revealing that Clank is now a Holovid star playing “Secret Agent Clank”, a news story plays showing Ratchet’s home planet of Veldin being invaded by Tyhrranoids under the command of Doctor Nefarious…

Ratchet and Clank 3: Up Your Arsenal – or just Ratchet and Clank 3 in other places – was released in 2004 on the PlayStation 2, once again one year after the game before it. The game opens with Ratchet and Clank enjoying life in the Bogon Galaxy, before revealing that Clank is now a Holovid star playing “Secret Agent Clank”, a news story plays showing Ratchet’s home planet of Veldin being invaded by Tyhrranoids under the command of Doctor Nefarious…

Continue reading “Ratchet and Clank Original Trilogy Retrospective Part 3”

Anime Review: Attack on Titan

When humanity is hunted, it’s time to fight back. Living within Walls, humans live a bleak life, living off rations, whilst the Titans come swaming in, feasting on humans – All whilst not needing to eat them to survive. A cruel, bleak world, with a really interesting overall premise, Attack on Titan is a gritty, brutal series filled with interesting characters. It’s been around for a while, but I’ve recently been checking it out for the first time on Crunchyroll.

When humanity is hunted, it’s time to fight back. Living within Walls, humans live a bleak life, living off rations, whilst the Titans come swaming in, feasting on humans – All whilst not needing to eat them to survive. A cruel, bleak world, with a really interesting overall premise, Attack on Titan is a gritty, brutal series filled with interesting characters. It’s been around for a while, but I’ve recently been checking it out for the first time on Crunchyroll.

Continue reading “Anime Review: Attack on Titan”