Review: Pankapu (Episode One)

Too Kind Studios’ absolutely beautiful, absolutely fun platformer brings lovely visuals along with tried and true platforming is a game made for both classic to current run + jump action/adventure fans.

pankapu-logo-final-png 

In a way, Pankapu (only $4.99!) strongly echoes Michel Ancel’s wonderful Rayman, n a few key areas, but that’s a very good thing indeed. Both games have unique looking lead characters, fun, intuitive gameplay for all ages, and a dark thematic undertone that’s in direct opposite of the super-bright, stellar art direction that makes them so wondrous and eye-catching. The game presents itself as a bedtime storybook tale read by a father to his young son, which is a great way of making the fantastic seem real:

To help his child fall asleep, a father tells him the story of Pankapu, a tiny warrior created by Iketomi the God of dreams. His mission is to fight the hordes of Nightmares who are trying to invade his world. During his quest, he will meet many characters, such as Chii, a magical spider who will become his friend and guide him all along this great adventure in Omnia.

During this events, he will also be confronted with Gangreyn, a dark and viscous opponent who will challenge him to go see Yne’Ska, the Mother of Nightmares. Then, the tiny hero will decide to not just save his world but also to go in the center of the nightmares land, to restrain the problem at its source.

 

What follows is a mostly excellent mix of pure fun in some lush environments that’s going to be somewhat easy to old-school platform experts, but challenging for those players looking for a cool new world to bounce around in and discover.

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2016: A Package Odyssey: Houston, We Have A “Wait, What?”

deer-in-headlights 

Nope, that’s not me above. That both my reaction to yesterday’s news (no, not that stupid debate I didn’t watch) about my missing PS4 as well as the general attitude of the seller I bought it from. Both of these are making me wish I had a quart of booze to drink before smashing the bottle over my head if I hadn’t passed out by that point. Whee?

More in a bit. I need to get some squeaky, freaky wheels moving here because that darn deer sure isn’t moving fast enough and the road needs to be cleared without anything else going under the bus.

Suspense! I really hate it at a time like this. Don’t you? Good.

2016: A Package Odyssey (Days 3-4*): Spin Cycle, For The Moment

Well, I figured this would happen at some point, but yep, it happened. Step back from your viewing screen and hold onto your butts, folks… this post is going to suck. Up to a point.

(Thanks, virgilio72!) 

I didn’t post yesterday because I decided to try and work a bit and I was in a crappy mood because I decided chronicling this ongoing nonsense wasn’t all that therapeutic after all. I was just getting more annoyed at every person involved in this mess I’m (still) a victim of not being very helpful. USPS was giving me a slow runaround, the seller is kind of lost and asking me what to do (I’ve been passing along as much help as I can), and despite being a longtime fan, I’m about to go postal and recommend anyone I know just NOT use their local post office for anything but whatever passport services they offer. But let’s not pull that rabbit out of the hat just yet, folks.

Anyway, after a suggestion from a message board that I call the number on the USPS web site and another user comment that

The postal service is very serious about employee mail theft. They will get to the bottom of it.

Well, I would hope the hell so. I decided to pick up the phone this morning and try my luck. That turned out to be both a terrifically terrible and (very) good thing to do. Well, maybe on the “(very) good” part.

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Ghost in the Shell Teasers: Æon Re-Flux


 

The jury is officially out, most likely because they just got a dose of nerve gas while sequestered. All I’ll say here is lovely kimono/mask combo and presence of “Beat” Takeshi aside, this is not what I’m wanting to see because it gives me a serious flashback to that pesky live-action Æon Flux movie. I’ll say no more on this other than to predict it may do better in Japan than in the west, as for the most part, audiences there somehow think the film will do well with a popular Hollywood star than some native no one will recognize outside of the country.

Amusingly enough, the first actress that came to mind when I heard Scarlett was in the running was Charlize Theron, who at least has the height I think Motoko Kusanagi needs to be that imposing figure she is in the anime. Eh, I guess she’s not so Furiosa she didn’t get the part (ba-dum-bum!)

(Not So) Random Film of the Week: GOG

gogWhile the three films in Ivan Tors Productions’ “Office of Scientific Investigation” (OSI) trilogy haven’t gotten the name recognition or massive fan bases of certain other more well-known franchises, each stands out as a fine example of Tors’ commitment to bringing a more scientific and human touch to the genre. While not going for camp or cheap thrills, the films make for a look into Tors’ heavy interest in pure science fiction with independent films he got made on his own terms.

Beginning with 1953’s The Magnetic Monster, 1954’s Riders to the Stars, and GOG, also released in 1954, the three films trade in the era’s familiar “B” movie antics for drier, more “realistic” hard science mixed with speculative elements. While some action scenes take place in all three films, outside these sequences things are done with a more sedate, almost documentary-like presentation of their assorted plots.

Additionally, all three films can be watched and enjoyed fully in any order, as they tell stories that are connected by a few threads, but don’t contain the same characters. Chief among these threads is men (and women) of science trying to make advances in the field for the future with dramatic (and sometimes unfortunate) results. Or: you can’t make a science-flavored omelette without breaking a few scientist-shaped eggs…
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2016: A Package Odyssey (Day Two*)

Annnnd, the saga continues…

(thanks, David Luckie!)

Tuesday. It’s the same as Monday, but a day later. I actually had to go back to the post office this morning to send out a package (some new Mac power cables I had no use for as I don’t own a Mac), and ha, bloody ha-ha, the same guy at the inquiry window yesterday just so happened to be working the regular window I ended up at. Of course, he recognized me right away and as I step up to the counter with my little box of cables, I get a “Hey, how’s it going?” followed by a “Did the package arrive yet?”

PAUSE.

(Remember folks, this is the same guy who tells me yesterday that my package had been sent or was in the process of being sent BACK to where it came from. Now, unless the return trip was via TARDIS and my box whipped its way back from its original location to my doorstep within 24 hours (and it hasn’t, dear reader)… That would be a NO).

PLAY.

(Thanks, The Thing Legacy!)

I tell him “No, it hasn’t”, thinking maybe he’ll realize that’s a rather dumb question to ask. Let’s just say I was so annoyed that I didn’t realize I paid $7.05 to send a package Priority Mail instead of the under $4 it should have cost for First Class. Ugh. Well, dammit… GRRRRR!

Feh, at least it’ll get there faster. No wait, I just checked out of curiosity. It’ll be the same three days. Well, just… damn it all.

Okay, I think I need a drink now:

(Thanks, sambosez!)

I was too worn out from being up too late worrying about my backlog and other stuff to have my head explode like yesterday, but fair warning: Day 3 may be that day you all want to duck and cover into your bunkers with those old Civil Defense helmets on and a week’s supply of hardtack, beans and plenty of fresh drinking water.

Back in a bit…

*It’s actually day NINE of this nonsense, as the box hit the routing hub on the 11th.

Review: Wheels of Aurelia

Bravo, Santa Ragione and Brava, Lella! This driving sim/adventure hybrid’s a definite Game of the Year contender that will make those who “get” it want to crack open a few books and do some heavy reading and/or thinking.

santa_ragione-wheels_of_aurelia
Platform: PC (also on Mac/Linux/PS4/Xbox One)
Developer: Santa Ragione
Publisher: Santa Ragione
Release Date: 9/20/2016
# of Players: 1
MSRP: $9.99
ESRB Rating: N/A
Official Site
Score: A (95%) BUY IT!

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Calling Santa Ragione’s outstanding Wheels of Aurelia a simple “driving simulation” is REALLY selling it short. This brilliantly conceived hybrid game is more of a mature “choose your own path conversation-based adventure that just so happens to take place in a almost constantly moving car” with 16 possible outcomes and more than that many ways to reach them. From the beautiful stylized simplicity of the art, the great soundtrack (buy it!) that captures the spirit of late 70’s Italian radio tracks, and the mature script that may rankle a few overly sensitive types while striking others as flat out fantastic and thought-provoking.


Save for the ride you choose, the game’s opening is exactly the same each time. In 1978, Lella and Olga, two young Italian ladies who met the previous evening at a disco, set out on a road trip to France on the Via Aurelia along the western coast of Italy. Along the way, the pair talk about life, pick up a hitchhiker or two (or none – it’s up to you) and based on the path both the conversation and car takes, the game reaches a conclusion in all of 15 minutes or so. 16 endings at 15 minutes each ends up at 4 hours total playtime IF you’re silly enough to think you’ll see every conversation and character variant possible. The combination of period-era history, frankly spoken dialogue and some VERY interesting hitchhikers make this very replayable as well as a great exercise in storytelling.

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2016: A Package Odyssey (Day One)

holy-cats

So. How’s your Monday going? Good? Good.

Mine has been… interesting so far.

(Thanks, Sunshine Jack!)

Quiet. We’ll get back to you in a bit…

Anyway, this morning I popped up at 7:08am, made a pot of coffee and had a cup before popping out to the post office. Hey, I’d rather be home and dry writing up reviews, but you know how it goes when you need to go track down that thing you need to play games with so you can write those reviews, right?

Math time: rainy Monday + post office packed before 9am with cranky patrons + SUPER slow inquiry window = Yeah, it’s a Monday, all right. At 9:21am (I was fourth in line), the unusually nice guy at the window sees the tracking info on my phone that shows my refused box being refused at the hub station and my address and without missing a beat, says “Oh. It looks like someone pushed the wrong button on their tracker down at the other location, so your package got returned…”

Uh huh, I seeeee.

Wait, what?

Someone. Pushed. The. Wrong. Button…Continue reading

You Win Some, You Lose More…

NOT actually what happened, but a little humor is needed here, so:

(Thanks, MrAnimeGodx!)

So, yeah. I’m still in a rotten mood from having my PS4 go missing before it reached my hot little hands, but at least I know the thief works for USPS and they need to do some housekeeping that involves someone losing their job and warming a cold bunk in a prison cell. Still, it’s going to be a stupid as hell Monday going down to the branch here with my tracking number to ask how the hell was driving that truck last week or who the hell at the hub where mail is sorted and went out thought they could get away with their plan. Anyway, I’ve been trying hard to enjoy the rest of my weekend, but it’s not working much…
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Gurumin 3D: Priced, Themed – Now It Just Needs A Hot Date

gurumin-logoMore happy news for you 3DS owners out there: Mastiff has announced a release date, price point and bonus downloadable themes for Gurumin 3D. You may commence with the happy dancing if you so desire:

During PAX West we let press in on a couple of exclusive secrets that we are now ready to share with you. First, the price. We are happy to let you know that Gurumin 3D will be released on the Nintendo 3DS eShop for the shortcake-sweet price of $14.99. And second, at launch we will also be releasing multiple themes to decorate your 3DS with. One of these themes will be free with purchase! We’re still undecided which theme we’re including, but rest assured you’ll be getting one theme for free ninety-nine! ;D

As for those themes, I like this one the best:

gurumin-main-theme 

But Mastiff wants to hear from YOU about which of these others you prefer, preferably on their Facebook and Twitter pages:

gurumin-themes_too 

What? Did you say you wanted a handy video screenshot/art gallery combo? Okay. Here you go:

I think that’s it… well, that actual release date is still incoming, so that will be the next big news on the plate to watch for.

-GW

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