A few months back, I did a list of some of the games that have kept me sane while we while away the hours in our bubbles. A lot of them were the big hitters like God of War and Dead by Daylight, but recently I’ve started to deep dive into my Steam backlog to look at a lot of the games that I didn’t give enough of a chance or, more often, missed completely.
Some were bought through a Bundle pack, others were Early Access (a practice I now avoid, but that’s a rant for another day..)
So here’s a short list of some of the little Indies that I’ve checked out, a few I played to completion, and my thoughts as to whether they’re worth your time.
PORTAL RELOADED – Let me start with a cheat. This only recently came out, but I would be doing you a disservice to not mention it. Portal is two of my favorite games of all time, so a well done fan mod that adds a 3rd Portal made me wary. I’ve been hurt before. Fact is, it’s fantastic. The third portal opens a window to the future and the puzzles make you think in an entirely new way about lay out solutions. Highly recommended.
QUBE – On that note, let’s go with the ‘inspired by Portal’ game, QUBE. You wake up in a big white room and have big white gloves that give you powers over the space. The puzzles never twist your brain too hard and the ending is lacking – but you could do a lot worse than losing a few hours to this one.
GRIS – I have a fairly deep opinion of the good and bad ways to use vehicles like games as art. In short, they’re mostly not my thing… but on occasion, there is a game that is so gorgeously rendered that it is impossible to not fall into it. Gris is that. Every moment feels hand drawn and, where you will have very few real challenges in it, it hasn’t been since Transistor that I took so many screenshots just to revisit the world.
NANOTALE – I have a weird love of typing games. It probably is because I honestly have some fast words per minute and do enjoy stretching those muscles sometimes. I assume this is how sports people feel about holding balls.. maybe.. anyway.. Nanotale is the spiritual sequel to Epistory, another typing game by the same publisher, where you use words to adjust magic, discover nature, defeat baddies, and it is all done with a beautifully built world.
These are just a few of the games I’ve attacked the last few weeks, and I’m sure sometime in the future I’ll revisit this list, as there were some real bombs amongst these gems.
That said, I’m always looking for suggestions on little indie titles I may have missed, so don’t hesitate to reach out and let us know what you’re playing!
So, this is an interesting topic, but one I enjoy talking about.
Years ago, when AOL Instant Messenger was a thing, a friend of mine and I were watching the Winter Olympics on TV and chatting about it through IMs. We were watching curling, and had no idea what was going on, how it was scored, or anything. So we did some sleuthing…. and, while we were sleuthing, my friend stumbled across some interesting information…
Friend : “Hey, did you know there’s a curling place like… 20 minutes from both of us?”
Me : “No shit?”
Friend : “Yeah, it’s $50 for three two-hour lessons, and if you join their club.. like.. their Curling Elk’s Lodge… they take that $50 off the yearly membership”
Me : “$50? I’ve spent more than that on far dumber stuff…. ”
And a plan was born.
We arrived at the building in Central NJ (Yes, Central New Jersey exists. No, I will not argue this point. No, you are wrong if you suggest otherwise) and are immediately greeted by an interesting cast of characters. Short, tall, skinny, not…skinny, business cut look and ‘lived in the woods and lived off roadkill’ look… one thing was for sure, there’s no such thing as a ‘standard look’ for a curler.
They were amazingly friendly, and when we told them we had found them online and wanted to take the lessons, they said absolutely, but, we have one question “Why curling?”
Friend : “Well, we were watching it on the Olympics and were curious about the rules, scoring, play style and such and saw that you had lessons… so we figured.. .why not?”
Me : “There’s two ways I’m getting to the Olympics. Curling, or buying a ticket”
Luckily for us, both of those answers were acceptable.
They ran us through the rules for scoring and the rules for playing.
They impressed upon us 2 VERY important rules to start.
Rule 1 – Never step onto the ice with your “slider” foot first (as opposed to your “gripper” foot which has the traction)
Rule 2 – Always take your keys and phone out of your pockets before playing.. because you will forget Rule 1.
For scoring, the large ‘targets’ on each end of the ice (called “The Sheet”) is called “The House”, the center of which is “The Button”. Each team throws (slides) a total of 8 rocks. The team with the rock(s) closest to The Button gets 1 point for each rock that is closer to The Button than the opponent’s closest rock…. cool, so like, shuffleboard mixed with bocci. Got it. The thrower pushes off from The Hack and slides forward, releasing the rock before the Hog Line (think, Blue Line in hockey). The sweepers can control the speed of the rock, as it reduces the friction in front of it. What we didn’t know, was the bottom of the rocks aren’t smooth… they’re concave. Only a very thin lip actually contacts the ice. The ice isn’t smooth either. Before each match, they lightly spray deionized water on the ice to give it a dimpled texture. This texture, along with the bottom rim of the rock, and the slow rotation given to the rock upon release, is what ‘curls’ the rock… the speed of that curl and the distance it travels down the sheet, is aided by the sweepers, and those sweepers are guided by the thrower.
Now, each team has 4 members… 3 players and The Skip (team captain or “skipper”). It’s The Skip that will stand at the far end of the ice and let the thrower know where he wants to shoot for. Skip determines placement, one thrower throws, the other two sweep. When it’s the Skip’s turn to throw, the 3rd thrower will take the Skip’s place at the far end of the sheet for aiming help, but the Skip still tells him where to stand.
Each match is 8 to 10 “Ends” (think innings in baseball) and each End is over when each team has thrown all 8 rocks. The team that throws first is the team in the lead. The last rock (from the team behind) is called “The Hammer”…and advantageous rock to have as you can completely change the scoring for that End, but.. you only get that advantage by being behind so… it comes at a cost.
A tournament is called a Bonspiel, and, as is customary in curling, there is an overt amount of good sportsmanship. Good shots can be quietly hi-fived, bad shots are never mocked, and… at least in the rink we were at.. at the end of every match, the winners by the losers a round, and the losers reciprocate by buying the winners a round.
It was AMAZINGLY fun to play, and MUCH more of a workout than we had imagined. Our first lesson was all about balance. Second lesson the following week was form, and third lesson the week after was a mini-match of 4 ends. We had a blast. We forgot Rule 1 a handful of times and paid for it. We were sore for days, but man… it was fun.
We didn’t become members as the ‘local Bonspiel’ was in Canada, and we just couldn’t commit to taking the time to go there when needed to play, but, would I do the lessons again? In a heartbeat.
Hey all, PCR here.
It’s no secret that I’m a fan of the MCU. Going all the way back to our Year 1 celebration we’ve talked about it, hypothesized about it, fawned over it and reviewed aspects of it. Today, I’m going to dive a bit deeper into the “why” I enjoy it so much, and some things they do that I’m not fond of.
First, the Infinity Gauntlet comic crossover is, by far, my favorite comic crossover. End of story. Was it perfect? No… most huge comic crossover events tend to start amazingly, then seem to have a hard time finding a way to finish, but it still struck a chord with me and has stuck with me since my comic-collecting days… so when Marvel teased at the end of Avengers that we were getting Thanos, I was in. I felt “there’s no WAY they would do Thanos and NOT do Infinity Gauntlet!” and I was pleased to be correct on that count.
One of the most amazing things in my opinion that the MCU gets right is casting. I have not found one instance of casting.. hero or villain.. that I’ve been against. Now, have I thought some were ‘meh’? Sure, but in those instances it’s more of a “I don’t hate it” and much less of a “They missed the boat..So and so would have been MUCH better!” (looking at Corey Stoll as Yellowjacket here and to a larger extent Anthony Mackie as Falcon). Those examples aside (I’ll get into the Mackie thing later), from hero to villain to supporting role, the casting in MCU movies and shows has been amazingly spot on.
Another thing I absolutely love about the MCU as a whole, is how they set precedent for future endeavors. “Ok, we got you to understand The Convergence and The Nine Realms? Good, here’s The Quantum realm and Dr. Strange” “You good with multiple suits of Iron Man armor flying around on their own? Awesome, here’s Ultron and his army” just to use two examples. It’s brilliant storytelling in my opinion, and makes it easier for those who *aren’t* huge comic fans to digest what they’ve been seeing on the screen.
I’ll call it “loyalty to the source material”. Civil War was a great comic series (not Infinity Gauntlet great, and fell off with a much weaker finish, but still a great concept). The movie we got, while entertaining and giving us some great fan service in scenes, was not the story told in the comics. Now, I get it. It couldn’t be. Civil War comic run was a huge crossover event in and of itself. There’s no way to effectively condense that down into one movie…and I also know the MCU shouldn’t be a slave to the source material in a way that doesn’t allow for moving the MCU plot along. That being said, to me, there’s something about a movie using source material so loosely that it almost retcons and makes the original source material irrelevant. This isn’t just an MCU flaw, this is a movie flaw in general, but it’s one the MCU and Marvel doesn’t do better on. Is there a way for them to? I’m not sure, but it stands out to me nonetheless.
And finally, let’s talk about the Netflix shows.
Overall, I enjoyed them. Daredevil was spot on. Jessica Jones wasn’t my kind of show, but I found value in watching it. Luke Cage season 2 was far better than season 1. Iron Fist …well… was necessary for The Defenders to work (which, to me, it did) and Punisher was amazing.
None of them (to date) have ever been ‘shouted up’ to the greater MCU movieverse, and there’s an easy way they could have been in Infinity War.
When Thanos snaps, there could have been a montage scene (much like they had in the comic) of scenes from around the world of people disappearing. Imagine, Thanos snaps, and we cut to Hell’s Kitchen and see Matt talking to Foggy and Foggy dusts… Jessica and Trish both dust mid conversation…Luke watching people in Harlem suddenly dust away… it could have taken them… 2-3 minutes of movie time to intersperse something like that, and it would have paid the TV shows respect for carrying on the MCU torch in other media.
That’s it for me for now, Hatton’s up next week!
I love me some movies. I also love me some well filmed movies. Even better? Movies that have scenes that just, for one reason or another, stick with you for years after you watch them. With that in mind, here’s some of mine.
End Chase. Near Dark is a great vampire movie, and while there are a number of good scenes in it, the image of Jesse and Diamondback in the station wagon, huddled under blankets to block the sun, smiling as they smoulder and start to catch fire as they try to run over Caleb is just a great visual scene.
Cesar’s Death. Bound is another movie that is chock-full of great scenes, but the best one for me is Cesar’s death. The top-down camera angle as it pulls back and we see Cesar, his blood pooling into the large puddle of white paint, then pulling back further and the white paint puddle framed by the dark floor… the way it was filmed, the contrast… it reminds me of the scene in The Untouchables after Capone killed that guy with a bat at the banquet table, just some great cinematography.
Men With Brooms
“The Juggernaut’s Entrance”. Years ago, after seeing curling for the first time on the Olympics, a friend of mine and I found a place in NJ and took lessons. It was there we learned about a fun little movie called ‘Men With Brooms’. If you’ve played curling or are familiar with it, this movie is great, and the cast is pretty impressive. The scene I loved the most was when Alexander “The Juggernaut” Yount and his squad enter the bonspiel in matching silver lamé tracksuits with cheerleaders and pyro going off at the entrance. The fact that curling in and of itself is such a subdued/great sportsmanship sport made their entrance scene completely hilarious.
28 Days Later
Deserted London. I know you’ve probably seen this movie, but I had to include it for the scenes of deserted London. It wasn’t a huge scene to be honest, established to get the point across of how empty everything was… but the scenes of London Bridge… just… EMPTY… it hit on a scale of not only what kind of undertaking it was to get that scene filmed, but how absolutely terrifying it would be to be in that position of being there and just… being completely alone.
Sidewalk scene. This is a visually amazing movie from Jim Jarmusch with Forest Whitaker in the lead. There’s a scene in the movie where he’s walking down a fairly busy sidewalk while people and businesses are interacting around him and.. the cinematography is nothing short of stunning in my opinion. The way that people are talking to each other, bringing trash to the curb, waving to people driving by… but do so in a way that NONE of them actually make visual contact with Whitaker as he walks… one pace… never changing speed…it was such an amazing way to show how his character walks through society under the radar.
Every week, the Somethings will be giving you a little something extra, so please check back every week for reviews, lists, cool finds, and more!
Hey there Somethings!
If you’ve listened to our show (and… who hasn’t?) you know we’re fans of Bonnie Gordon and Xander Jeanneret, collectively known as “The Library Bards” (/jazzhands). Well, they’ve recently had the release of their second album “BomBARDed”, a follow up to their debut album “Bardcore”, and let me tell you.. this is an amazing and worthy follow up.
I grew up on the likes of “Wierd” Al and Doctor Demento, so for me, when it comes to parody songs, the bar is rather high, and I’m pleased to say “BomBARDed” delivers. One of the key things for me that makes a great parody song is the mixing of the parody lyrics into the original lyrics, and nothing is a better example of this than “Princess Bride”. The way Bonnie and Xander tell the story of the story while mixing the parody lyrics to those of “Mr. Brightside” feels not only flawless but natural.
Being a child of 80’s music, I also enjoyed the focus on music from that era. Using song such as AC/DC’s “TNT” and Styx’s “Come Sail Away” as the basis of “DnD” and “Come Fly Away” respectively really brought me back. “BomBARDed” also does an amazing job of touching a number of different (and overlapping) fandoms. Browncoat? Check (“Come Fly Away”). Trekkie? Done. (“Klingon”) Gamer? In to Comics? Want to clone dinosaurs? Check (“DnD”), check (“Comics Fan”) and check (“Welcome to Jurassic Park”). If you’re a sci-fi and/or pop culture fan, this album has something, and most likely multiple somethings, for you.
Not only do Bonnie and Xander show their musical ranges in styles and harmonies (I LOVE the way they growl out “DnD”, and their inter-song banter is amazingly spot on), but the music supplied by Bonecage and Sam Johnides does masterful job of staying amazingly true to the classics while adding enough of their own flourishes to make them fresh and original.
If you like great music, witty pop culture references and supporting independent artists, do yourself a favor and check out this album!