The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams)
Maybe I shouldn't be writing about this yet, because it's clearly only a third of the whole story - this book doesn't have the "that's the second biggest sandwich I've ever seen" line. What is here, though, reminded a lot of Discworld i.e. "Mice are the most intelligence species on the planet" compared to "camels are the greatest mathematicians" from Pyramids, and some parts reading like those smartassed footnotes that pepper Discworlds. I guess it's a British thing?
Also, while memes have sucked all the surprise out of "42", it was nice to finally find out what the heck this shirt was referring to.
Imaginary Veterinary 1: Sasquatch Escape (Suzanne Selfors, Kindle eBook)
Yup, another book about kids and a hospital for magic animals. It's still a bit anticlimactic being the beginning of a six book series and all, but at least it's not nearly as toothless as Pip Bartlett, which was like sitting in lukewarm bathwater with soggy cornflakes floating in it for the hour or two it took to read. At least when the kids accidentally release a sasquatch into the real world they have to actually work to fix their screwup instead of using unexplained superpowers to solve everything. At least it actually has me kind of curious where it's going to go from here.
One thing that did grind my gears was Ben whitewashing his lies with "I'm not lying, I'm just telling stories" and never getting any comeuppance on it. Yeah, that's a great thing to teach kids. "I didn't break the vase, mom, the flowers inside came to life and tried to run away, pushing the vase off the table and dying when they lost their water. No, mom, I'm not lying, I'm just telling stories!"
Earthworm Jim (Genesis)
I'm going to hold off on reviewing the actual game for the SNES version. Despite playing Earthworm Jim a lot in my late teen years, I last played it back in 2010 so I'm not confident in my memory to tell me whether the game was always this frustrating and I'm out of touch with it, or if the Genesis version legitimately has some issues. Enemies seem to activate when they're further off screen, the hit detection is really fiddly leading to many missed jumps and whip swings, and I'm pretty sure the SNES version doesn't have as many of those pointless, bullet-sponge meteor showers in the Peter Puppy level (maybe they changed that along with the garrish background?). I remember playing the Saturn version of Earthworm Jim 2 and thinking the controls for the Puppy Love stages were unusually shit, then going back and finding that, yes, the SNES version had tigher controls, so maybe this is a similar case.
What I am confident in saying is that while some people declare the Genesis version automatically superior to the SNES for having an extra level, Intestinal Distress was literally thrown together overnight and if it isn't the the worst level in the game, it's second only to the extra meteor shower-y Peter Puppy level*. But who cares, Sega does what Nintendon't, people!
* I kind of want to throw the Tube Race into this competition, but I think that's childhood trauma talking. Even after six years, I blew through it on my first try here.
Halloween Forever (PC)
An NES-style platformer about a pumpkin man saving the monster world by puking candy corn on everything. The developer might have had Ghosts and Goblins in mind while making the game, but it's far more reminiscent of Monster Party; for one thing, its difficulty is far closer to the latter than the former. It is a bit short with only five levels, but with four characters with their own attack styles it offers a lot of replay. And what's not to love about a game where you can play as a witch that throws cats everywhere?
I don't know if they're just soft or assume NES Style = Difficult, but people on the game's Steam forums are vastly overrating this game's difficulty. Yeah, it's frustrating the first time you game over and get kicked back to the start, but the game is short enough you can get right back to where you were and the bosses' patterns aren't the most complicated I've seen (the leech boss is a bit of a dick, though). I even beat 1HP mode on my first shot at it, though that might be because the witch is kind of broken and I ignored the runes since they're in more difficult locations and the achievement didn't require them.
Halloween Forever was also a first for me, because I played it while it was in early access and getting updated. The first time I got to the Necromancer in level 3 he kicked my butt because the game was really picky on where you could stand to avoid his teleports and attacks, but in the rematch he seemed much easier. I later found out the developer tweaked his hitboxes, so I guess I wasn't the only one having problems.
The Iron Trial (Holly Black and Cassandra Clarke, Kindle eBook)
The Iron Trial wants to be Harry Potter. I'm not just saying that because it's about three friends in a magic school, with the girl being the brains of the bunch. There's this backstory about a war with a powerful dark magician that's on the verge of being reignited, students being separated into groups at orientation not unlike the Sorting Hat, a snobbish antagonist who has it in for the main character but deep down is really burdened with family honor, and a scene where the main character sneaks around the school past curfew. The similarities are really driven home towards the end, when a character previously thought to be weak and cowardly turns out to be a brilliant magician in cahoots with the big baddy, and just to take from something other than Sorcerer's Stone, we get a very "Harry is the seventh Horcrux"-esque plot twist.
I guess if anything it's somewhat better than Sorcerer's Stone. It isn't a tedious mystery that misguides the readers, then pukes pages upon pages of exposition on them at the end. And shit, the wolf puppy has more personality than anyone in Sorcerer's Stone.