Axe Cop Vol. 1 (Malachai and Ethan Nicolle, Kindle eBook)

Okay, I know this was written by a five year old, but I couldn't tell it apart from the other "Batman riding a chainsaw velociraptor while wielding dual lightsabers" randomness that gluts the Internet. There were a few times I did chuckle, like when an evil Christmas tree shows up and starts wreaking havok by singing terrible music, but for the most part it was just chaos.


Pokemon X (3DS, E10+)

It's a Pokemon game, what do you want me to say about it? It's nice that they streamlined EV training, I guess since everyone on the Internet knows how it works by now. And the new monsters aren't as terrible as they were in Black and White (I don't care how useful they might be, Timburr, Gurdurr, and Conkeldurr have to be the three ugliest Pokemon in the entire franchise. Seismitoad can also fuck off.) But basically, it's the same cartoon cockfights with a preachy "the world is corrupt, and only the power of love and Pokemon can fix it" message everyone knows.


Sam and Max Season Three: The Devil's Playhouse (PC)

Season Three is a bit of a departure from the first two. First, while Seasons One and Two were essentially a bunch of unconnected stories that just happened to come together in the final episode (I think; fact of the matter is, I barely remember Season Two), Season Three maintains a fairy consistant narrative. On the other hand, the game mechanics change from episode to episode. For example, the first episode has you get clues to the puzzles using a magic Viewfinder that shows brief glimpses of the future. The second episode has you jumping among four points in the story, using information gleaned from one to solve a puzzle in another. The third has a Phoenix Wright-esque interrogation system that gets dropped about a third of the way through. Combined with Max's psychic powers, the tools the game drops on you can get overwhelming as you try to figure out which one you need for the situation.

And while Sam and Max always had an undercurrent of dark humor, this takes it a step further by alternating between Cthulhu mythos mindfuckery and comedy (sometimes in quick succession, like Max's reaction to one of the elder gods being named "Junior"). It generaly works as a means of building and relieving tension, at least whenever that fucking Stinky character wasn't around (but at least she got what was coming to her). But then the final boss puzzle of episode four rolls aorund, and things takes a turn for the massively fucked up.

Curiously, though, episode five is lacking a final boss puzzle.


My Life as a Ten Year Old Boy (Audiobook, Written and Narrated by Nancy Cartwright)

I guess how much you get from this depends on how much of a hardcore Simpsons fan you are. I enjoy listening to the commentary tracks on the DVDs and that's basically the kind of person this book is targeted at, but is also means I already knew most of the information Cartwright divulges on the creation of the show. She does have some new anecdotes, like when she had to phantom direct Kirk Douglas when he was being diffult and kept flubbing his line, which reminded me of a DVD commentary on what a pain in the ass Jose Conseco (or as they refer to him on the DVD, somebody who's name rhymes with "Manseco") was to work with when they were doing the baseball episode.


Escape Goat 2 (PC)

MagicalBeanFactory gave Escape Goat a makeover, added some new mechanics like more tools for you mouse friend or those skeletal snakes that track your movement, and now we have Escape Goat 2. But the result isn't quite as tight as the first game. A lot of the times I didn't think I was solving the puzzle right (although as evidenced the the achievements, there's several ways to solve some levels), and some levels felt like I was just throwing shit at the wall until something finally got me through. And I was shocked when, after several botched attempts, the final puzzle just sort of solved itself. I also didn't like the music as much as the first game, but take that for whatever it's worth.


Scribblenauts Unlimited (PC)

Well, this was a surprise. I wasn't at all impressed with the first Scribblenauts, but this was actually pretty decent. They tweaked the gameplay so the puzzles are based more on logic and word association and not your ability to write "ROPE" and "WINGS" fifty bajillion times. It's not perfect, and there was a scenario where you had to guide Hansel and Gretel through the witch's house, and one time your clue is "make a distraction" that was Sierra adventure game levels of obtuse, but it's still damned impressive to deal with a barrel-slinging yeti by spawning a plumber.

Although I still can't believe the game recognizes "PHILOSIRAPTOR", but not "TASER".


Collinsfort Village (Joe Ekaitis, Kindle eBook)

A griffin who writes fiction under a penname lives in a cave with a bear who plays basketball and restores antique cars. That's certainly an interesting setup, but not much is done with the idea. And the bear basically vanishes in the second portion of the book, and instead the focus shifts to the griffin and his dragon friend, a painter who thinks he killed Amelia Earhart. The way that gets resolved is beyond convenient. First, the griffin finds the answer when a boy makes him jolt his microfilm machine. Then the answer happens to live in the next town over. Although I commend Ekaitis for doing his homework on art terminology like "charcoal studies" and "butcher paper", it's all a pretty underwhelming way to tell children "even griffins and dragons appreciate art and you should to".


Thomas Was Alone (PC)

"Bastion with rectangles" might be an appropriate way to describe Thomas Was Alone. It's a platformer where a voice narrates the actions of a bunch of colored blocks with their own gimmick - Thomas is well-rounded, Chris can't jump high but is shorter and can fit into tight spaces, James hangs on the ceiling, Claire floats in the acid water, Sarah can double jump, etc. The way the narration incorporates these traits into their personalities is actually very well done, but the actual game was way on the easy side. Most puzzles amount to little more than "find switch, hit with with correct block" while you usually you have to figure out what order to place the blocks in as they need each others' help in getting around, again, there aren't any real brain bashers. And it wasn't uncommon for me to finish a level before the narration had finished leaving me to sit there like a lemon until he finished, and other times the narrator started talking just as I was finishing the level.

Oh, and the blocks sound like the tank in Blaster Master when they jump, so that's a plus.


Little Inferno (PC)

Okay, I didn't really hate this game, I was just writing whatever stupid shit I could with whatever letters the game coughed up. But I also didn't see the point of it. It's basically an ASMR simulator; you buy crap, set it on fire, watch it burn, then use the money that appears to buy more crap. The closest thing to gameplay here is figuring out which items can be burned together to form a "combo". After you burn everything in the game, your house blows up and you get some message about "moving forward". But hey, at least is uses in-game money instead of microtransactions.

And I didn't realize until after I'd set my crap on fire that the S got moved off the end of "BITES". Poo.


140 (PC)

Well, I think this earns my award for "Most Nausiating Visuals". It's like Thomas Was Alone knocked up a Bit.Trip game on top of an Atari 2600, and if it had taken more than an hour to complete I totally would have puked all over my keyboard.


The Adventures of Lomax (PSX, K-A)

I'll elaborate more when I rewrite the Adventures of Lomax review in Lemmings FOREVER but for now I'll say that while Lomax is one of the prettiest games I've seen and is basically a solid platformer with a wide variety of hazards and set pieces, it's unfortunately the kind of game that lets its animation gum up the controls. It's not nearly as horrendous as Garfield Caught in the Act and there's a lot more substance to the actual game, but there are some needlessly frustrating jumps, namely a handful of moments where you have to cross chasms by jumping in bubbles or riding some vultures which are a total crapshoot because of ambiguous hit detection (I eventually figured out you need to aim for the very tips of the ropes hanging off the vultures. Haven't a clue on the bubbles).

In some of the layered levels, you have to bounce off a springy platform that shoots you into the next layer, but the destination platform isn't directly behind the one you're firing from. But if you move too soon, Lomax slides off the pad before it launches him. Move too late, and you miss the platform you're shooting for. Depth perception on items that move between the fore- and background can also be a real bitch, namely in that level with the windmills. But damn, the scenery makes it hard to stay mad at the game.