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Review: FAR: Lone Sails (2017)

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FAR: Lone Sails
2017

FAR: Lone Sails is an exploration adventure game by Swiss developer Okomotive. Available on PC, Xbox One and PS4. Where you traverse a dried-out seabed littered with the remains of a decaying civilization. Keep your unique vessel going, overcome numerous obstacles and withstand the hazardous weather conditions. How far can you make it? What will you find?

Now that that’s been said, I’ve beaten this game 5 times in 3 days and got 100% steam achievements. That’s something I rarely do. It isn’t a long game so beating it several times will only take a few hours. However, this game is full of magic.

Let me explain. In this game, you have an androgynous character traveling a grayscale landscape with red being the only other color. The art style is beautiful. As you side scroll in your large land vehicle, the scene is ever-changing. 

You start in a small house/workshop after taking a moment to honor the passing of, what I assume is your father or mentor. After leaving the building behind you walk until you come across a massive vehicle. It reminds me of many things, reminiscent of movies about a dystopian future, you do everything you can to keep your vehicle operating. 

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Stopping to gather items for fuel, solving puzzles to upgrade the vehicle, outrunning disasters. All while a quiet story is told in the background. A story without words, which can be the best story there is. As I travel, my mind races to try to fill in the blanks. Wondering if it’s a comment on our current society and where we are headed or it’s just a simple story to be interpreted how we wish. This was magic to me. 

As I stated, I played the game over and over, hoping to grasp more and get all 14 achievements on steam. Each playthrough I noticed something different, something I was surprised I hadn’t noticed before. Honestly, these discoveries excited me and now that I’ve achieved everything I may slowly go through one more time to see if I’ve missed anything else.

This is definitely a comfort game for me and I could see myself booting it up after a long/bad day. It’s stunning, well worth the price and time. I can’t wait to see what else this developer has to offer.

TL;DR: Great Game, Must Play

The Unicorn Store: A Review

220px-Unicorn_Store_(Netflix_poster) Growing up is hard. What is one of the worst parts is probably the pressure to give up “childhood things.”

Giving up the things that you love because of the pressure to act like an adult is something that everyone has struggled with. However for many of us these things are still a fundamental part of who we are. In the Netflix movie The Unicorn Store Kit is on a precipice of who she was and who she can be. After being dealt a harsh blow of failure in art school Kit moves back in with her parents who seem to have already moved on. Hurting and confused Kit needs to decide what to do next in her life.

Should she put aside all of her creativity and glitz for a “normal” job? Is this idea of what being an adult is all that there is for Kit? An invitation and the promise of a unicorn of her very own, if she can meet the requirements, is presented to Kit. She then begins her journey to be worthy of a unicorn. She meets allies along the way and starts to find the strength to be her own version of an adult.

A lot of work clearly went into this movie. Costumes, hair and makeup are big tools in showing where different characters are on their own journey. The sets are amazing. The diversity between sets is really a treat for the eye. It also really helps to set the mood for every scene. I was really blown away by how much attention to detail went into making The Unicorn Store.

The cast really knocked it out of the park. They took interesting characters and breathed them to life. I very happy with how well written these characters were. To be honest if they hadn’t been then the premise of the story would have fallen flat. However all the hard work paid off and we are left with a lovely movie about growing up on your own terms.

I think everyone should watch this movie. The Unicorn Store gave me a lot to think about and I wasn’t expecting it to. I thought it was just going to be a silly, glitter filled movie. What I was presented was instead a thoughtful and heartfelt movie that was still filled with copious amounts of glitter.

So grab a stuffed animal and give The Unicorn Store a chance.

unicorn store 2

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Review: The Boys (2019)

the boysThere has been a trend in comics, television series and movies for superheroes to be darker. To look at the gritty, dirty parts of their world. While some fans are getting sick of this trend, it does lead to some interesting stories. 

The Boys is, once broken down to its core, one very interesting story. The show can be streamed on Amazon Prime Video. The origin story of The Boys can be found in comic form. Created in 2007 by Garth Ennis, this comic didn’t pull any punches, which is just what a fan can expect of any of Ennis’ work. The story was then picked up and revamped for not just the current times but for its current streaming format. 

The Boys starts off with one of the protagonists, Hughie, being dealt a harsh blow at the hands, well sort of, of a superhero. Not just any supe either, but a member of the most elite group in the world, known as The Seven. The Seven are treated like celebrities, or even more so like untouchable Gods. For the last decade, they have been molded by a huge corporation, so it is no surprise that when things go wrong with a supe, it is quickly covered up.

After learning this firsthand, Hugh is left angry and disenchanted. He is approached by Billy Butcher, someone who seems to know not just what really happened to Hugh, but also all about the dark secrets of the superheroes that the world adores. Hugh is then brought into a crazy series of twisted events as he tries to get revenge with the rest of the team.  

The soundtrack for The Boys is a great selection of music. The songs not only set the mood, but also give the audience hints about the overall tone of the scene. Sometimes they are used as juxtaposition against how dark of a twist is just around the bend. The sets are really amazing. The costumes are also well done. Even just looking at the supe’s suits, the viewer can see clues about the heroes. Really, the costumes are amazing and enough of a reason to watch the show in and of themselves. 

Would I recommend this show? That is, honestly, a really good question. I will say that I think that the show is so much better than the comic. The changes made gave characters a lot more depth and really helped the story flow. Without giving anything away, I want to stress that this is a VERY dark show. Pay attention to the rating and the warnings at the start of every episode. By the way, I am so grateful for the very thorough warnings they put up and am hoping that more shows will follow suit. 

It is a very interesting show, but it will not be for everyone. If you are a fan of darker versions of superhero stories, give it a shot!

homelander that fuck

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

Games Created by Women: Galactiquest

galactiquest Space, we obsess over it. We wonder what is out there. We want to live there. Well what if you could? What if you got to colonize a planet other than your own?

Galactiquest is a game about colonizing the galaxy. It was developed and invented in 2017. It is for ages seven and up which is perfect for all kinds of imaginations. Not only is this game perfect for kids of all ages it was also invited by a kid. Ellie Skalla invited the game at eleven years old when she submitted it to a challenge.

The Young Inventor Challenge is a great initiative that was started to inspire children. It gives children, ages six to eighteen, the chance to develop and then to even pitch original ideas to major toy companies and other very interested audiences. This contest is an opportunity for children to use their skills to shine and maybe, to even have their ideas put out into the real world. Ellie entered the contest and had a lot of fun developing the game and testing it with her friends. The experience was very positive for Ellie and she enjoyed working to make her idea a real board game that is now being sold by Target.

The aim of the game is to conquer the most planets to win. Just be careful because you will also still have to defend the ones you have from your fellow players. This board game encourages strategic thinking. It is for two, though I would encourage more, to four players.

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I found this game when I was browsing the games aisle for my younger cousin.  He loves playing games and it is something I really want to do more of with him. We both also love space so this seemed like a win win. Then I read the bit about Ellie and how she won the contest. Into the cart it went. My cousin really enjoys the game and I think Ellie did a fantastic job.

Not only is this a fun game but the story behind it is also just really neat. I think it is important that we spotlight the accomplishments of children and organizations that help them realize their goals. So go pick up this game and blast off to space. It will help encourage programs such as the Young Inventor Challenge and you will get a really fun game!

 

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!

A Trip Through the SNES Classic: F-Zero

Image result for F-Zero

It’s shameful, I know, but up until I got the SNES Classic, I’d never played a game in the F-Zero series.  I didn’t even know what type of game that it was, though the title sounded familiar.

For those in the same boat, F-Zero is a racing game set in the future.  It’s the series that introduced everyone to Captain Falcon, though he doesn’t have a clear presence in the first game.  If you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer like me, I recommend reading this interview with Kazunobu Shimizu, Yasunari Nishida, and Takaya Imamura, three of the original developers of F-Zero.  They share some great stories about the history behind the game and the reasoning behind some of the decisions they made.  Some highlights include: Captain Falcon was initially designed to be a mascot for the Super Nintendo system, not F-Zero, and that the game was set in the future to work around different programming issues.  They didn’t have the technology yet to create effective tires that turned, so they just took out the tires and designed hover cars for the racers.

The original game allowed you to pick between four different cars and race through three different sets of tracks: Knight, Queen, and King.  In a manner similar to Mario Kart, once you pick a set, you have to play through all of the tracks. I wish these games would just let me select a racetrack that I really enjoy and let me play it without going through hoops to get there.  That’s something that I appreciate more and more about Diddy Kong Racing.  (And yes, F-Zero has a Practice Mode that lets you do this, but only for seven tracks.)

Regardless, I fell in love with the original F-Zero. I couldn’t get over just how fast and smooth it feels, even when using a control pad.  It doesn’t have all the extra bells and whistles that you get with racing games like Mario Kart or Diddy-Kong.  You can’t pick up items that give you colorful shields or the infamous Blue Shell missiles.  But that’s not a bad thing at all.  It’s just straight, pure racing and I appreciated the change.

When you start a race, your hovercar has a Power gauge that functions similar to health.  If you hit the edge of the track, or your fellow racecars, your power diminishes.  If it drops down to zero, your hovercar will explode and it’s game over.  You can also fail if your hovercar goes completely off-track or if you fail to complete laps after a certain period of time.  It didn’t take long for me to get the hang of things, and it helps having Practice Mode available if one ever needs a quick refresher.

If there’s one thing that holds F-Zero back from being a perfect experience, it’s the lack of a multiplayer mode. While it is fun and challenging, playing against an AI can get boring after a while.  Having the option to play with friends would have made it even better and increased the replay value.

Still, I’m so glad that I had the chance to discover the original F-Zero on the Super Nintendo Classic.  I’ve had a blast playing it, and if the other games in the series are just as good, I’ll have to check them out too.  If you’re a fan of F-Zero and have any recommendations, please don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments!

I’m rating this game 9 out of 10 hovercars.

For The Hoard (Of Dice)

Games, Dice, Play, Gamble, Success, Casino, Fun, Bet

One of the first things that people new to Table Top Role Playing Games take notice of is the oddly shaped dice that are used. More than just a six-sided die left over from a copy of Monopoly they range from 4 sides to 100 sides. Veteran players tend to develop collections, nay even a hoard, of dice.  Why, you may ask? What is the attraction to the random tokens of fate that we roll across tables,, into dice trays, and drop down dice towers?

Depending on the game, you may find yourself wanting multiple sets. Deadlands for instance has a mechanic where you’re required to roll multiples of the same die for each skill check. It’s easier to purchase 5 sets and roll a handful of D8’s instead of picking up the same one and making several rolls with that. Champions, a superhero game I locked onto through most of my 20s and early 30s relied on your standard D6s but would see dozens of them being rolled for damage depending on the power level of the hero you had created. When I started I would stroll the aisles of my local pharmacy searching for  5 packs of black and white D6s from Hoyle. I’d pick them up regularly. gathering more and more until eventually I found myself purchasing bricks of tiny 6 sided dice in different colors to match the color scheme of my heroes.

To an outside observer our behavior concerning dice is odd. We anthropomorphize them. We talk to them. We “train” them to roll well by displaying them on the table with the better numbers on top. We scold them when they roll poorly and put them in dice jail after a string of bad rolls. We are superstitious about them as well. You never roll someone else’s dice (without permission). We treat specific ones as blessed or cursed as we watch them roll consistently well or poorly.

Dice also come in all colors, sizes, styles, and materials. No matter your budget you can build up a collection of these precious rolling gemstones. Translucent or solid colored plastic dice are the base models. You can get a set for free with shipping if you trust certain overseas shopping apps, or a drawstring bag decorated as a bag of devouring full of 20 complete sets from Amazon for around $30.

True collectors though can expect to pay out some serious cash for dice crafted from metal, stone, bone, or even wood. From the moderate pricing like Skullsplitter Dice to the high end cost of Level Up Dice you can satisfy your inner dragon and amass a hoard of fateful gems.

The accessories we get for our dice need to be discussed as well. The first is the dice bag. Usually a felt drawstring bag, sometimes lined in bright colors, or decorated on the outside as a magic bag. Many dice hoarders begin with a borrowed, or stolen bag from Crown Royal. Like a pouch of coins we arrive at the gaming table and set down our purse of luck pulling them out and testing to see which ones will behave that night. Some people use dice chests, designed to look like…chests…or mimics. I’m a bag man myself.

Rolling them across tables can be problematic, what with maps and miniatures getting in the way. Dice towers sculpted from wood and plastic resembling watchtowers and fortified walls with little trays or courtyards below restrain range our dice may wander. There’s also portable trays that fold and snap into form that are more easily transported.

So search high and low, near and far. Find the shiny baubles that speak to you. Feed your inner dragon and collect your hoard of dice, but I issue you a warning:

Never let Wil Wheaton touch your dice. You may as well toss them if he does.

Kiki’s Delivery Service: An Anime Review

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kiki delivery Moving out on your own can be daunting. It can also be exciting to plan but what to do when the reality doesn’t live up to the reality? These are some of the themes that are tackled in Kiki’s Delivery Service.

This is a beautiful anime that comes from the studio of Hayo Miyazaki. In 1989 audiences were first given the chance to see Kiki’s story come to life on film. Like all Miyazaki films this has beautiful imagery and a great soundtrack. Audiences feel not only as if they have been invited into Kiki’s world but like they are a part of it with her. Perhaps that is why we keep returning to this anime.

Kiki has just turned thirteen. According to her family’s traditions she must leave home for a year to complete her training as a witch. Kiki has been excitedly planning this trip for a long time. A night of perfect weather send Kiki out into the world. However Kiki soon learns that it isn’t going to be as easy as she thought. She is going to have to work to overcome her own insecurities and become the best witch that she can be.

As I mentioned above the imagery of this anime is lovely. I am aware that animation is something that Miyazaki films are known for but I am blown away every time I watch one. The feeling of calm that these movies can bring out with the art is amazing. The characters all also have costumes that add to their story. Every bit of their costumes are integral to helping the viewer get to know them.

The music also helps the story along. Differences between when Kiki is flying or when things look a little bleak are clearly portrayed in the score. This is one more anime that has every element working in tandem to give the viewers a great story.

I would recommend Kiki’s Delivery Service to anyone. They story is easy to relate to. The characters are solid. Honestly I wish that I would have had a copy when I had first had my big move earlier this year because this anime would have comforted me immensely. So I hope this recommendation will also give you joy and comfort when you watch it.

kiki and cat

ALWAYS KEEP SPARKLING!