Category Archives: Entertainment

Future Game of the Year? Pit People (Closed Beta) by The Behemoth

Starting a quest battle at Tinkletown, where Whizz Kid tries to win an election against mayor Rump Trumpet by violent means.
Starting a quest battle at Tinkletown, where Whizz Kid tries to win against mayor Rump Trumpet by violent means.

These are my and my son’s thoughts on Behemoth’s Pit People, based on the September 2016 closed XBOX One Beta (my son was given a key for it so we all got to play).  Ohhh, and our thoughts are happy thoughts.  I don’t know who these people are at Behemoth, but I love them.  As my son said, “It’s as if they got in my brain and made the game based on what they found.”  (At the end of this post is a gameplay video with commentary by the both of us.)

Unlike Behemoth’s previous platformer (a type of game I don’t like and won’t bother playing) Battleblock Theater, Pit People is a turned-based strategy game (Behemoth describes it as “face-paced, turn-based, co-op adventure”).  And it’s a very entertaining one.  Behemoth games have always been the *ultimate* in quirkiness, cuteness, and in-game humor.  So while I haven’t played their past games (I’m now definitely going to give Castle Crashers Remastered, a five-star “2D arcade adventure” game on XBOX One*, a go), I loved watching my son play Battleblock Theater because it was so refreshingly quirky and funny (it is bloodier than Pit People seems to be–a plus for the new game).  Only Plants vs Zombies: Garden Warfare comes close.

But could Pit People be awarded “Game of the Year” by anyone (there are many groups and publishers that give the honor)?  Maybe not, as the award seems to always go to big money-makers by big developers, and Behemoth is a small independent developer.  Perusing video game awards given in the past, I’m amazed The Behemoth has never won any.  Maybe they just aren’t “serious” enough . . .  But Pit People could be a game-changer, right?  I hope so.

When breaking up a wedding is a good thing--the groom wants to feed his FRIEND the cupcake to his bride and guests. A critical hit display is captured.
When breaking up a wedding is a good thing–the groom wants to feed his FRIEND the cupcake to his bride and guests. A critical hit display is captured.

Anyway, about the game.  You start with a couple of characters and quickly get a couple more, but have to recruit more in order to move on to the main quest.  After that, you can keep recruiting and are given the option to build many teams.  Since the game is in Beta, I don’t know if the numbers of things will remain the same, but your in-game book provides stats and they currently say:  55 areas/sites to find, 1003 unlockable items, and 94 quests.  The number of quests is not the reality, as far as I can tell, since all but the main quest line quests can be done over (many times), and they get harder.  A pleasant surprise:  when I failed a quest and went back to it, the enemy characters actually moved into different positions from the first play-through.

As usual, the story and narration in the game are superb.  A giant bear, basically a Satan figure (your battle sign is a haloed and winged happy face, your enemy is a horned red face), has crashed to earth and caused havoc, raining down big liquidy globs of green bear blood.  As you travel about to accomplish quests (main, sub-, and found) or to explore and fight random enemies, you encounter all kinds of weird and funny lands (“Cavity Falls,” filled with goodies, the “Lair of Lady Ladylegs,” filled with . . . a large lady spider thing, and so on) populated by wacky enemies (bulgy-eyed unicorns, slug women (Gorgons), giant troll mothers . . .).  There are “famous fries” throwing sticks, swords made of dentures, swordfish, and toilet brushes (not together, mind you), and strange shields made of bacon, luggage, pain-reliever capsules—you name it, even a celery stalk helmet.  There is a ton of entertaining dialogue throughout the game that is both written-out and, instead of standard voice-overs, verbalized as gibberish.  The different characters have different types of voices, adding to the humor and “outside-my-own-world” effect of the game.

This latest Behemoth game happily features player co-op mode as well as player vs player and player vs AI in the PIT.  We haven’t tried the co-op yet, but playing in the PIT can be fun and quite rewarding.  When playing against AI in the “Unfair Co-op,” which is HARD and meant to be UNFAIR, the point isn’t so much to win as to gain things, like exclusive loot and experience points.  Did I mention that there are cupcake healers in the game?  No?  They lob their frosting at you for your yummy refreshment; my favorite cupcake has orange frosting and a decorative skull.  I know what I want for Christmas now, IF Pit People is released that soon (no word on its release date yet).

* It isn’t only available on XBOX One, but it has a five-star rating there.

New Youtube Communist . . . er, Monetezation Guidelines Petition

Hello All!  If you haven’t heard of the Youtube controversy yet, it’s about “censorship.”  While some will say that the new policy is not “censorship,” especially since Youtube is privately owned, in essence it is one big tool for shutting the mouths of those who are not politically correct (natural disasters are now a no-no too).  So whatever you want to call it, it’s not good for free speech, learning about and sharing various opinions, and helping to keep this country from completely losing its democratic basis (a controlled and uninformed public simply can’t be democratic).

A number of articles say, quoting Youtube officials, that the policy isn’t new, actually.  I don’t believe this.  But if it’s true that it’s not new, the fact that Youtube is enforcing it now IS new.  So it kind-of doesn’t matter–the point is just a deflection.  This is what the policy says, in part:  “Controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown” will be demonetized.

If you’re a Christian or know about the culture wars that have been raging, you can imagine how stifling this policy might be.   Youtube, arguably, would be able to demonetize anything.  It has even demonetized suicide help videos.  While the creators can petition Youtube to remonetize these videos, one only has to imagine the sweeping nature of this video censoring practice.  Of course, if Youtube’s program is anything like Hilary’s email search engine, who knows what it’ll find or miss.  And speaking of Hilary, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if she has something to do with this.  Look at the timing, look at the ability to demonetize your work if it contains a “sensitive subject” or includes “political conflict” (and “natural disasters”?!?).

Please consider signing the little petition:  Make Youtube Change Its New Community Guidelines .   At the time of this writing, it needs one more signer in order for the petition to actually show up publicly at Change.org.

For further reading and viewing:

Youtube Declares War on Politically Incorrect Opinions

Creators Call Out Youtube for Demonetizing Content

 

The Absurdity Within: X-Files Episode 5, Season 10

X-Files Ep 5 Mulder's Trip
Mulder during his “shroom” (or placebo?) trip

The new X-Files season, a short one that renews the series after being off the air for 14 years, is a very mixed bag.  A very very mixed bag.  Episode 5 is practically one long platitude, while episode 3 is brilliant (literally, my favorite TV episode ever made, out of all I can remember, anyway).

X-Files Season 10

I’m going to make this section short.  X-Menesque mutants debut in episode 2, after in episode 1 Mulder talks of having the new revelation that men are using alien stuff to evolve humans and improve technology.  While critics ate this stuff up as a critical reflection of modern American politics, I thought it disappointingly silly, since I was pretty sure Mulder had already thought this (that is, his new revelation) from watching the previous shows.  It’s what I took away from the X-Files in the past, anyway, so it seemed cheap and confusing.  Most of the new episodes are quite gory, too (that is, gorier than before).

Continue reading The Absurdity Within: X-Files Episode 5, Season 10

Epic Gnome Battle during GW2 Beta! Goats for the Win!

The Garden Warfare 2 Beta is still on, and in this 5 minute video my son catches the end of a super long battle for the gnome–where he’s able to win it for his zombie team while being a . . . goat!  The session was the longest he’s ever experienced playing Garden Warfare, and perhaps that’s a tribute to plants and zombies being more balanced in the newer plants vs zombies game.   Here’s the video, but we also have a post that goes over the changes we see, and our impressions of them, from Garden Warfare to Garden Warfare 2.  We hope you enjoy both!

Garden Warfare 2 Beta, Changes and Impressions

GW2, command area for plants
At the central command center for plants.

The Garden Warfare 2 Beta, or more like a pre-release frenzy fest, is happening from January 14th to 18th, 2016.  The game’s release is scheduled for February 23rd.  I’ve written positively about the original Garden Warfare here,  since it’s a “clean” fun game that Christians might enjoy.  But what of Garden Warfare 2?  Well, we’re playing it and these are some of our impressions; they are necessarily limited to the parts of the game included with the BETA, which are the multi-player mode and small amount of backyard play only.

A note on the categories below.  Good, Neutral, and Sad/Questionable relate to changes to the new game from the original game.  And, since there seem to be lots of changes, not all are written about here.

The Good
  • Zombie changes.  Not all zombie changes are good, in our opinions here.  But there are good ones (the Yeti Chomper is sooo cute!).  Captain Deadbeard is funny and has a parrot that he can use for distance attacks, just like the Cactus does with vegetle drones in the original Garden Warfare.  The scientist has some fun and detailed variants, the mathematician and the zoologist.  The zoologist, especially, is crazy-funny and detailed, with its porcupine gun, living Koala riding piggyback, and prairie dog coif.  The scientist, according to my son, is now easier to use/control, too.  Another new zombie is the Imp with his Z7 Mech, which together are a fun wink at Titanfall.  The imp is a really fun addition to the zombie team.

Continue reading Garden Warfare 2 Beta, Changes and Impressions

Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Story)

Fallout 4. Nick likes me.
“I got you as a friend. There’s nothing more an old bot could ask for.” This is one of the more satisfying aspects of the game, or is that a social outcast sort-of-thing to think? Here, Nick Valentine, a synthetic human with the memories of a 21st century detective (who’s fiance had been murdered by a crime boss), professes warm friendship.

This is the second part of my Fallout 4 review, Fallout 4.  Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better.  For the first part, with the introduction and description of what’s similar and what’s different in this newest edition to the Fallout series, please go to Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Overview).

The Story, or, an Outline of a Story

I don’t know if it was bad directing or bad choices that made the story so shallow in Fallout 4.  This game has a huge map, voice acting, cut-scenes that accompany all the dialogues, all kinds of crafting and building, and many followers that have a lot more comments and quips than in previous games, and all of those things take up memory and developing them would have used up the game’s budget.  Those are things that either weren’t in the previous games, or they were but to a much lesser degree.  So choices were made, and the newest story suffered; it is much more of an outline than an actual story.

The main stories in Fallout New Vegas DLCs, like Old World Blues and Honest Hearts, for example, have more to them than this new whole game does.  Characters in those DLCs talk a lot more about what they’ve done and what they’re doing than in Fallout 4, which has a story where all the missing explanation is an irreconcilable, glaring annoyance.  Your own character doesn’t have the ability to question much of anything, like any normal person would, nor do they have anywhere near the normal level of frustration, sadness, anger, etc., expressed in all things related to your son and your quest for him.

Continue reading Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Story)

Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Overview)

Fallout 4 Older Model Synth
An old model synth found in an abandoned part of The Institute (with a “posterize” filter).

Fallout 4.  What can one say?  After years of anticipation, the 2015 sequel to Fallout 3 (2008) and Fallout New Vegas (2010) is found to be bigger and . . . different.  It should be different, at least in some ways, of course.  Fallout 4 (Bethesda Softworks, Rated M) is a BIG game, as so many new ones are today, but it tries to be too much in this reviewer’s view. How can a video game have too much?  Well, Fallout 4 isn’t just any video game. It is one in a series, one in a franchise (Fallout New Vegas technically isn’t part of the franchise, but that makes no difference to player perception or lore) with a certain style and lore.

While there is a lot to be happy about with Fallout 4, the new gargantuan level of building and crafting (together with the related radiant quests) is not integrated well with the actual story of the game. It’s almost as if they’re two different things, two different games held together by thin threads. The story comes off as being really minimal compared to both the other in-game activities and the last two Fallout game stories. The ultra-tragic story sets the mood of the game, and when that mood is betrayed (finds no outlet), the resulting annoyance (anger and dismay, more like) spoils the game. But more on that later.  Since this Fallout review would be really (really) long for one blog post, it was divided into two. This first part goes over things that are the same and things that are different in this newest Fallout (the lists here are not exhaustive), with the second part presenting the story, with commentary, and giving a final overall analysis and rating.

Continue reading Fallout 4. Sometimes Bigger Isn’t Better (Overview)

2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 41,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 15 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 2 of 2)

Person of Interest, Ep 21, a demand
The Machine gives in to a demand made by its proxy. Similarly, God cares for each one of us and hears our fervent prayers. “Samaritan” only values its agents for what they can do for it and is only concerned with unquestioning humans (others are killed, not saved).

Part 1 of “Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4” covers some show background, a description of the series, and an overview of the God and Anti-God allegory found in this latest season (and developed in season 3).  Please see that part for those topics.  This part includes an answer to the questionable name given to the antagonist, “Samaritan.”  It also includes a section on the biblical verses related to the show’s allegory.

Why “Samaritan”?

It seems really odd that the metaphor for God is “The Machine” and the anti-God is “Samaritan.”  We normally think of “the machine,” when the expression is used, as something cold, mechanical, and all that is opposite of human concern and empathy; as such, the result of its machinations tend to be against our best interests.  I don’t fully know why the creator of this series chose name The Machine for this role, but there are two considerations I can immediately think of.  One, the AI’s creator, Finch, has doubts about his creation and chooses not to give it any other name.  Two, since the metaphor grows to allegory in seasons 3 and 4, perhaps the show’s creator and writers didn’t have the it all fully conceived earlier on.  The first two seasons were much more about solving crimes before they happened, and corruption in law enforcement and government, than about massive dueling AIs.

Continue reading Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 2 of 2)

Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 1 of 2)

Person of Interest, from opening

As usual–for anyone that reads my media reviews, that is–I’m writing about something that is not new.  We don’t have cable or satellite, but in the case of the show Person of Interest, we couldn’t even get the channel in on our TV that ran it (CBS).  So, I finally was able to watch the latest season, the 4th, on DVD (it’s now available on Netflix, too), and will share my “God is working in the world” observations with you.

After not expecting much, really, from a show in its 4th season (the writing tends to go south in aging shows), I was pleasantly surprised by this season’s quality and freshness.  That basic laud can be considered a recommendation, if you will, but I’m not here to write a review.[1]   I’m here to discuss the show’s underlying God/Anti-God story, which seems more obvious than ever this 4th season.  I’m just happy to see that there are still stories being presented in the US that don’t altogether ignore the Judeo-Christian God.  Of course, the concepts brought up in Person of Interest (PoL)may be too subtle or esoteric for most of the population to understand in any other sense than a generalized “good vs evil.”

Continue reading Person of Interest’s God/Anti-God Allegory in Season 4 (Part 1 of 2)