The Wild Robot (Peter Brown)
There's a decent idea for a story here, where a robot gets stranded on a forest island, adapts to the natural world, adopts an orphaned gosling, and learns illogical things like "love" and "respect for life." The problem is the writing style is very dispassionate, if that's the word I'm looking for. As in, the sentences are short, simple, and rather dry. Maybe it's supposed to be blunt because the main character is a robot, but it makes the book tell rather than show.
And look, I know some stories need sad endings so I won't stomp on Wild Robot just for that, but I will stomp on it for having a sad ending that only serves to be a sequel hook.
South Park Season 14 (TV DVD)
Straight from Season 3 to 14, and the jump in animation quality and writing is enough to give you whiplash. This is the season with the Cthulhu three-parter that's mostly a look into Kenny coming back to life whenever he dies, but my favorite episode is the one where the kids write the most vulgar shitpost of a novel they can and everyone else thinks it's some deep, profound statement on whatever they personally think is what's wrong with the world.
As somebody who regularly gets obsessed with things like cake decorating and Babish videos (and shit, not just cooking but miniature painting, play slime, and whatever else distracts my garbage brain), Randy getting obsessed with cooking in "Creme Fraiche" struck a hard - if crass - chord. And I found Kyle yelling "Can I just get some goddamn tater tots!" funnier than I probably should have.
I don't think any of the episodes were truly awful, but "Sexual Healing" was unsatisfying, I appreciate the message behind "Medicinal Fried Chicken" of people confusing correlation and causation but the giant scrotums were a bit much, "It's a Jersey Thing" is a bit dated, the two-parter about not bending to people who use violence to get what they want would have worked better if the second episode hadn't gotten completely kneecapped by Comedy Central, the NASCAR episode was a "Cartman being Cartman" episode which just aren't my cup of tea, and I don't know how well the Inception parody has aged. I wasn't a part of the craze when it released, and the only time I ever hear it brought up anymore is when people misuse "-ception" to mean "thing within a thing" instead of "implanting somebody with an idea".
King's Quest VII: The Princeless Bride (PC)
This is from the same Sierra, um, era as Torin's Passage, and like that game King's Quest VII uses hand-drawn animation on painted backgrounds. And I guess they wanted to lean into Disney princesses as we're back to Rosella from King's Quest IV, this time joined by Queen Valenice. And the teeth Jane Jensen gave the series in VI have all been ripped out with pliers to restore VII to the bland fairy tale tweeness you've come to expect from the series. And what the hell is it with evil magicians kidnapping princes in this series.
At the first chapter, it seemed like Williams finally learned that if you're going to have us purify water by pouring salt water into a bowl, stuffing an ear of corn into a statue's hand, and using a comb on the bowl to make your character cry into it, you could at least slap some cryptic hieroglyphs on the statue's base giving us a clue of what you want. But by the fourth chapter the King's Quest Patented Moon Logic starts to creep back in, and you're having to look at a random tree branch to decide when to ask a gravekeeper to dig a hole without getting eaten by a monster. And at one point in the fifth chapter a knight says he'll help with something after he saves his wife so I was piddling around trying to figure out how to help her, and the answer was to press on ahead and the knight will come help you, even though he said he needed to cure his wife first. Or maybe the puzzles just seemed harder than they were because I was just getting frustrated by how fucking slow the characters move combined with the lack of shits the game was making me give. Thankfully the final chapter is short and straightforward.
This wasn't helped by the fact the music was mixed louder than the dialogue, so somebody would be giving me clues on how to put trolls to sleep and wake them up and something about a grain of salt but I could barely hear them. At one point a mumbly earth elemental was telling me how to restore a river and I didn't understand one fucking word of what he said. Turns out, this was either a bug in an older version of the game, or a problem with my old XP's sound driver because when I went to get a screenshot on a modern system the music would quiet down when somebody was talking.
Credit where it's due, while the game still murders the shit out of you at every turn I don't believe it's possible to screw yourself over by entering a point-of-no-return without an item from an earlier part of the game, and there's at least one instance where the game will kill you if you try to leave the area without collecting an item you need later. There might be a moment at the very end of the game with the flower, but I think the game gives you a second chance to get it if you don't have one.
In short, it's probably the most coherent King's Quest in terms of puzzle design which isn't saying much, but the writing is a bland followup to the respectable King's Quest VI. Although this is the first time you encounter a cat in a King's Quest and not abuse it, so you know what, I'll give it an extra half Skitty.
Deltarune - Chapter 2 (PC)
Yeah, I'm a bit late to this party. Like Chapter 1, Chapter 2 was released for free and at this point, I feel like Fox could release the entire game for free and make bank on soundtrack and Fangamer merch sales.
I found Chapter 2 overall better paced than Chapter 1. Susie isn't as disagreeable as she was in Chapter 1 so there's less grating "SUSIE SMASH!" "You're a hero, you should be nice!" "Nah, breaking skulls is more fun" fluff between her and Ralsei. And the narrative flow has more going on than the clunky "Villain come, villain talk, villain go, villain come, villain talk, villain fight, villain go, 80 goto 10" loop you had with Lancer in Chapter 1. Other new features include boss fights that take place in roller coaster cars that are admittedly more aesthetic than anything, a bit where you get separated from your main team and partnered with a reindeer girl, and a bizarre obsession with Punch-Out!! to the point... you know what, I won't spoil it, play the game yourself, it's free after all.
Oh, and Spamton, who's divided the fan art community between "Spamton is one-foot trash gremlin and I must protecc him" and "Spamton is six-foot sex devil and I must fucc him." My reaction to him went like this:
Meeting him in the alleyway: Haha silly joke character go brrr
Meeting him in his shop: Okay, this thing is fucking creepy.
Learning his backstory: PROTECC THE TRASH PUPPET
And that's how I found myself replaying both episodes on my laptop, as beating Spamton NEO and having him join as a piece of armor was the closest I was going to get to PROTECCING THE TRASH PUPPET (besides drawing bad fan art), and it does seem like the optional bosses are leading somewhere. And after getting my ass kicked up and down the garden path by Jevil, I beat Spamton NEO on my first try (I'd seen videos of both beforehand, and I only beat Jevil after watching another where I learned to quit fucking around with Pirouette and stick to Hypnosis). I think what makes Spamton NEO so much easier than Jevil is you have to keep building up TP to use the abilities that pacify Jevil, but you're free to hack at Spamton's wires all you like. Well, that, and Spamton doesn't have that carousel attack that hurts my WoW-rotted brain.
While I favor the "tiny trash gremlin" interpretation of Spamton, there's some impressive "cute dweeb" fan art and I'm not completely averse to the tallboi art, as long as it's not the overly sexualized or straight NSFW shit (that is not a link to Rule 34); I stumbled into a drawing of him as the Gigachad and that creeped me out more than any Spamton NEO fan art.
And now the elephant in the room: it took Toby Fox three years to release Chapter 2, and the in-game chapter select screen lists seven. At this pace, it's going to take another fifteen years to finish this. It hurts the story because you know it could be over a decade before we get any payoff to the revelations at the end of this chapter (or followup on the trash puppet). I really hope he has the framework down, or spent the last three years bouncing between chapters and just decided to release Chapter 2 since it was done, and he can get the remaining chapters out faster. If not, well, I'm sure it'll still be done before Yandere Simulator.
And another thing, why the hell is there so much fucking swearing in this game? I'm not shy about profanity as you shit well cocking know, but here it's like hearing Big Bird repeatedly drop F-bombs.