Review: SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 (Switch)

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Oh, sure, it looks super-cute… but this game is a MONSTER.

Switch_PuyoPuyo2_desc_char“Did you get the game yet? She asked. I told her yes, I’d gotten it. “Oh, good! This one you can play better!” the voice on the other end of the phone cheerily said, then let out an evil-sounding cackle. My eyes rolled in my skull like marbles on a freshly waxed floor and I laughed. Well, my dear friend was right to some extent, as I got further faster in SEGA AGES: Puyo Puyo 2 ($7.99) that I did in the first game thanks to a new ‘offset rule’ that makes for  slightly less stressful play, ‘Garbage Puyo’ drops be damned. The game also tosses in a few other new rules as well as a very handy and new rewind feature, and overall, feels more fun than the original.

A voice in the background on the other end warned “She just wants to play against you online and win!” and yes, I knew that as soon as I saw their phone number pop up on my home line. Man, if that husband of hers just learned to play and lose gracefully, I’d at least be able to not have to take these awful beatings every so often.

Er, I think that came out wrong, but let’s move on.

The last time we played a Puyo Puyo game, it was in person, she was sick (some allergies acting up) and still beat me like a rug (yes, people used to beat rugs and still do). This time out, now she was tanned, rested and ready and yours truly had no chance against Mrs. Skills Deluxe. Yes, I was beaten like a barrel of pickles, if one beat a barrel of pickles for some reason instead of shooting fish in a barrel (which has always been a bad idea as you’d get fishy water and/or pickle brine on your good shoes).  Oh well, but I’m still pretty good at Bejeweled 3, so I take solace in that. Continue reading

(Not So) Random Film of the Week: The Flesh Eaters (1964)

THE FLESH EATERS

Cheesy, but very perfectly so.

TFE_adI think about Jack Curtis’ exceptionally cheesy but really awesome sci-fi/horror hybrid The Flesh Eaters maybe a bit more than I should, but there’s a good reason for that. It was one of the many fright films I grew up watching on television so many times that its unnerving 91 minutes were engraved in my brain for decades. While I’d seen many other horror/sci-fi films as a kid, this particular one stood out for the unsettling for a kid gore factor and overall tone that screamed EC Comics-style nightmare fuel.

I found out later in my teens that it was written by very prolific DC, Marvel and other publishers comics writer Arnold Drake who also made storyboards for the film to assist the director. It’s also by location, classifiable as a New York-based film because it was partly shot in Montauk, New York. The plot kicks off as a small seaplane takes off from Manhattan, runs into a bad storm, and is forced down on a small island in the area with, let’s just say, some rather interesting results in store for all involved.

 

 

On that plane are faded starlet and professional drinker Laura Winters (Rita Morely), her lovely but very harried assistant Jan Letterman (Barbara Wilkin), and debt-ridden pilot for hire Grant Murdoch (Byron Sanders), all of whom survive the in-flight stormy surprise landing. They soon meet a German-accented marine biologist Professor Peter Bartell (Martin Kosleck) who’s all by himself on the island save for his little microbial friends whom we will soon find out more about. The not so good Professor has taken up some evil WWII experiments in breeding nasty little bacteria who need fresh flesh to thrive, and between the human and many more fish skeletons that start turning up in the troubled waters around the island, everyone is in for quite a bad time if something REALLY stupid happened to that plane, right?

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It’s too bad the folks on that plane didn’t see the beginning of the film as the in-flight movie, as they kind of missed out on a few important things…

Guess what happens to the plane? Free popcorn to the winning guess!

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Maneater: Watch Out, Folks – It’ll Chew You Up This May

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“HEY YOU KIDS, GET OFFA MY LAWN!!

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Please don’t sing that “Baby Shark” song here.

Way back in 2006, developer Appaloosa Interactive and publisher Majesco released JAWS Unleashed, an officially licensed game that had players take on the role of the shark in an open-world adventure set 30 years after the original film. While it suffered from some camera issues and a few glitches, the game was quite a guilty pleasure many players liked for its shark-driven bloody violence and some pretty wry humor in all the M-rated mayhem caused.

Me, I have both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox versions of that older game here, plus an Xbox review build from Majesco that I got at a press event for the game, which was a ton of fun to play, warts and all. The Xbox versions are buried in a pile of games here, but I did locate a sealed PS2 version I should crack open at some point (I’d reviewed the Xbox version many moons ago on a new defunct website).

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I don’t think a bigger boat will help much, to be honest.

 

Flash forward to 2020, and developer Tripwire Interactive has what looks like a much meatier game called Maneater coming this May and man, does it bring back some good and gory memories.

Here’s a somewhat tongue in cheek trailer to ogle:

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Review: Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls (PC)

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“Adventure… the new fragrance by Cloven Hind…”

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Prepare to get schooled skulled if you’re not ready.

For a while, from the 1980’s into the 1990’s, it seemed that the original Wizardry series was destined to last forever. But by 2001 that wasn’t the case as developer of what would be the final game in the series, Sir-Tech Canada went down for the count after the mostly excellent but flawed foray into the fully polygon arena with Wizardry 8. The company still supported the game until they finally vanished in 2003, and was never able to do a proper followup before they left the scene. There have been quite a large amount of games since then that have taken many elements the series pioneered, polished up the visuals and are basically Wizardry games with different titles as the end of the day.

Other titles in the series had danced on the edge with polygonal environments but 8’s was the first with both characters and maps presented this way. In the US, the series was slowly being forgotten despite some excellent ports to the Nintendo and Super Nintendo consoles, but in Japan, the series flourished on PC and consoles as a number of different developers tried their hands at making dozens of Wizardry games from console ports and original games to mobile and online-only titles with mostly good results. Which brings us to the game in question, which is quite good especially if you’re a fan of the classics. It’s got a few issues the keep it squarely in the past, but we’ll get to them below.

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Brain Wash, Or: Monday, Stuff Escapes Me Temporarily

So this was sort of amusing (sort of). First, let’s get some music for this post. Let’s see now… OK, here you go:

I woke up bright and early today to go do some laundry, which has been sitting around glaring at me for a bit and occasionally borrowing a book to read. Yeah, it’s been a while. I finally did gather up stuff a few days back and sorted it, so it’s three trips worth of what I would say are Santa-sized bags (“ho-ho-ho!”, but walking and smelling like dirty laundry). I was planning to head out early this morning. as the laundry here opens between 6:30 and 7am, do one load, finish around 8 or 8:30 and come back to do a second load.

Around 6:10, I’m having a cup of coffee and suddenly realize that I haven’t seen my wallet.

Uh-oh.

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Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls Makes My Day (Or is it Months?)

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So, a Steam review code arrived about 20 or so minutes ago and I’m dying to play it, but I need to post a few articles before I get to the game as I won’t get to posting if I start playing first. Yes, even though I went through this one on the PS3, I’m more than happy to fire it up again after a few years away because it’s like the security blanket of games for me and I want to see if I can get through it with no walkthroughs in sight. Granted, the turn-based nature of the game means I don’t need to worry about failing because I’m old and slow these days, and I recall a lot of the floors here by heart.

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The traps, however? Hmmm… not so much, although the rather random nature of the encounters will make the game a perfect storm if I get overwhelmed. It feels good to revisit this again, so come back around for impressions at some point.

-GW

An Animated Discussion (Part 2)

Now, where were we…

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Cutting to the chase, maybe? Right, then. Here’s what was in that care package that was retrieved by a friend for his two kids as they were struggling with a no internet challenge. I’d say that package worked for its purposes pretty well, but we’ll see what the kids thought:

flintstonesThe Flintstones The Complete First Season: This one went over big because neither kid has seen the older version of the show in any sort of order before, but they definitely got it’s influence on The Simpsons and Dear Old Dad said he went out and got a Honeymooners collection DVD from a local pawn shop at some point so they could take a deeper dive down the road.

I’ve always thought the first three seasons were the best, as the animators were still working on a few things and the some of later seasons’ episodes felt a little stale. That said, every season has quite a few stellar episodes, and on the while, it’s a classic series worth seeing in full.

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Random Film of the Week Quickie: The Beast of Yucca Flats (1961)

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It’s too hot for meatballs, but it’s going to get hotter, Tor.

yucca_MPI first saw this really awful and brilliantly bad sci-fi flick very late at night some years ago and again recently after overhearing someone in a diner hilariously recast the Avengers movies as period pieces set in the early 60’s. Yes, Tor Johnson was The Hulk in that person’s version. While you roll that around in your noggin, be warned that The Beast of Yucca Flats is a pretty horrible movie with only three redeeming factors:

1. It’s only 54 minutes or so long. Okay, it’s a long 54 minutes, so there’s that.

2. If you’re in a foul mood, you very likely won’t be in 54 minutes or so*.

3. It almost makes Plan 9 from Outer Space or Robot Monster look like Star Wars movies (which ones are up to you).

(Thanks, Alistair Knight!)

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Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls PC Is Right Around The Corner

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Yes, I’m thrilled even though I played this on the PS3. Here’s the trailer (and yes. this will be played again on PC):

Wizardry: Labyrinth of Lost Souls is coming to Windows PC on January 15, 2020 via Steam and the Humble Store by Humble Bundle for $14.99, €14.99, and £12.99 with a 10% launch week discount! Go get it, I say.
-GW

Review: Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD (Switch)

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You better have those banana grabbing skills down, folks.

SMB_SwitchSega, on a roll (Part I): Super Monkey Ball: Banana Blitz HD ($39.99) is a pretty fun time on the Switch, but you better have steady hands and steadier nerves if you want any chance of completing this game. Yes, the multiplayer is a ton of crazy fun here (that could have used a few more games) and that’s a reason some will jump all over this with a few friends. But this is a game where the solo play can be as hair-raising as it gets because it’s too easy to fail (and multiple times at that) some courses if you’re susceptible to anything from an itchy body part or any sort of issues with your controller.

If you’re new to this, it’s a game that will have you cracking up and pulling out hairs in equal measures. There’s a goofy plot here, but all you need to know is you’re a monkey in a big plastic ball and you need to roll, jump and quickly grab bananas as a clock is ticking down, fighting bosses a few times along the way.  You probably won’t be good at this initially, but practice makes perfect, as they say. Paradoxically, both Zen-like calm and lightning reflexes are absolutely necessary in this game where courses are tightly timed, bosses require super-quick pattern recognition and you need to play and replay stages to nab those bananas without falling off some deviously designed courses.

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“This is bananas, and bananas is good!”

Well, you do have to fall off some courses, but onto a lower part of a level, or to shave seconds off a course time, missing a few bunches of bananas in the process (until you figure out how to get them later in a different run). Developer Ryu Ga Gotoku Studio (yes, the folks behind the excellent Yakuza games as well as a few others) took the 2006 Wii-only game and have tweaked it into a multi-console game that’s quite good and yes, maddening when it needs to be. In addition to reworking the interface and adding online functionality, 40 of the Wii-specific mini-games are gone (well, 50 was overkill way back then and the Wii remote was a pain to use for some of them), cut down to a mere 10 that keep multiplayer games a faster-paced chunk of mayhem for up to four players.

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