No rite from the stars

This is the hardest game review this site has ever had to write. Negative reviews is just not part of its formula, yet when something has been gifted to us for review it feels only right to recognize the game. Even when so much about the game is poorly designed and implemented despite efforts it seems to make a solid adventure and experience.

The game in this instance is A RITE FROM THE STARS, published but not developed by Phoenix Online Studios. The game was developed by Risin Goat, a small studio in Madrid, Spain. They originally kickstarted the game way in 2014 and from a visual stand point for a tiny studio the many years of build show.

Where the game fails is story and gameplay. Conceived as a point and click with different gameplay methods, the two styles I game more than ample try at were both poorly programmed and lacked much fun. Good reviews on steam even state that they succeeded the game through what seemed like trial and error or constant repetition to notice the puzzle’s less than obvious pattern. This was definitely my experience in the section in which you must control two characters by mouse only and still do perfect timing to complete the section. The coding for this perfect timing is not generous to someone’s skills especially for something promoted as a point n click adventure. The other section I attempted involved switching screen powers and then remembering a pattern while doing perfect timing to avoid enemies that seemed to have a pattern that while exact was hard to maneuver because of the point n’click mechanics which would function much better as a keyboard & mouse or gamepad style.

My frustration with both these sections left me with no interest to even attempt the third. The writing of the characters, the absolute cipher of the lead protagonist and the slightly pressuring role of the co-star all absolute turn offs. The shame of this is my excitement for A RITE was very high. In a time where new and different games inspired by classic point and click in aspiration but in finished product fall short.

A bad review needs some balance, so I must say the music is quite enticing. As is the 3d graphical design. Visually this game is a top notch indie title. The characters, the background, the walk cycles (although faulty for gameplay), there is a lot of talent here. Level design is where the game falters but that’s just a huge thing. Even when frustrated or failing one should feel there could be success if they were just better, yet the case here is being better wouldn’t help. You’ll succeed by luck and just playing over and over and over till finally you beat it. This is not who it should be and takes away from the feeling of achieving a rite. You should feel like you are actually achieving wisdom, strength, etc, but that is not what happens here and because of it I can’t recommend even trying the game out for yourself to try. Although maybe you’ll want to and prove me wrong. Maybe I am just that bad at games. At times one could suggest I am, but I do know when I am having fun versus not and that is where A RITE FROM THE STARS drops out of favor for me. I did not have fun, no matter who pretty it was.

A RITE FROM THE STARS is $14.99 US and available on the official POS Store (https://store.postudios.com/products/a-rite-from-the-stars) as well as Steam, GOG, Humble Store and many more digital retailers.

GO-BOTS Return in All-New Comic Book Series

IDW Celebrates the 35th Anniversary of Classic Toy Line
with a Sci-Fi Epic Written and Drawn by Tom Scioli

SAN DIEGO, CA (July 20, 2018) – IDW Publishing is proud to announce that Tom Scioli, the visionary creator that brought you Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, will unleash his imagination on the wonderful world of Go-Bots! Launching in October, Go-Bots will be the first story to feature classic toy and cartoon characters like Leader-1, Scooter, Turbo, and Cy-Kill’s Renegades in over three decades!

In the new five-issue series, the existence of Go-Bots on Earth has changed humans’ way of life. They chauffeur us around. They protect us from harm. They do the jobs that are too boring or dangerous for us. They fight our wars for us. They are friends for the lonely. The only thing they don’t do is dream for us… but that could change any day now. For a generation, Leader-1 and the Guardians have said that they were here to help us… but as they become more integrated into our society, the question must be asked: Are they here to replace us?

“This is a dream project – I’m writing, drawing, coloring, and hand-lettering this book. It’s a labor of love,” says Scioli. “When these characters were conceived of in the ’80s, the idea of robots with human personalities was science fiction. Now, it’s history. The world of living machines is here – we’re living it. The time is right for Go-Bots!”

“Avant-garde creator Tom Scioli has been pushing the comic book storytelling medium for nearly two decades now and his work on Go-Bots is yet another watershed moment in his career,” says IDW Associate Publisher David Hedgecock. “It is a testament to the strong collaboration between IDW Publishing and Hasbro, that projects like this can exist on licensed properties.”

Quirky Mysteries

Renowned fictional comic book artist Mike Mason and alternate universe former Vice-President Joe Biden have very little in common. The commonalty is listlessness and set into a life which needs a bit of excitement. That very little exists though and through it machinations propels both their lives into crazy mysteries with as many twists and turns as the Los Caracoles.

In Fred Van Lente’s THE CON ARTIST we get thrown into San Diego during its always tumultuous world of San Diego Comic Con AKA Comic Con International. We meet artists, writers, fans (crazy and normal), editors, publishers, criminals and even zombies (sort of). I mean what’s a comic convention without a zombie or two, and murder. Of course what is a murder mystery without a mysterious murder? Especially one that the protagonist finds himself wrapped into heavily by being a suspect themselves for many different reasons. While trying to prove his own innocence by solving the crime himself Mike Mason runs, jumps, parties, contrives and draws through the time at the convention. Littered with pop-culture references as well as original TV, movie and comic ideas, the novel takes you on what feels like an legitimate experience of the convention and all it entails, including visiting the Gaslamp district, seedy hotels, crazy after parties, the marina and more. There’s side kicks and neo-nazis, sexy cosplay players who also are pedicab drivers, and a one armed girl who is a huge fan of Mike Mason because one of his major creations is a one armed warrior. The book is even full of illustrations done by the excellent Tom Fowler meant to be from the sketchbook of Mike’s, which he describes through out as he tries to keep his sanity. The only thing truly missing is a visit to the San Diego Zoo, but most people are lucky to find time to do that when trying to enjoy, endure and survive the media explosion that is SDCC.

While over in Andrew Shaffer’s HOPE NEVER DIES we find ourselves on the other coast of the nation in Wilmington, Delaware. It is a town with a long political upheaval. A melting pot city broken up into structures of poverty and comfortable. There’s local police, small town diners, a local motorcycle gang, civil up-rest living side by side and it feeds directly into the Amtrak towards Washington, DC. Home to a long time senator who moved to the area in his early teens and by the 1970s was the senator for all of Delaware till his two terms serving under the President. In the narrative it’s been six months since the new regime had taken office in early 2016, Joe Biden is now living in a nice home with his wife and dog and no longer has protective service. He is just a citizen, till circumstances of a long time acquaintances death seem possibly mysterious, or at the very least leave questions open. The information and the strange evidence is brought to him by his best friend Barack Obama; and after Joe uses some finagling and his own resources getting more info he finds himself teaming with Barack to find out the truth behind this death. Along the way they encounter cops, secret service men, more evidence, red herrings, drugs, injuries and they both begin to remember that no matter what, in the battle, whatever it is, we keep going; we believe whatever we did on this life was enough and that title of the book isn’t just a saying, but a way of life.

Through these two books, both out today in bookstores and other places you buy books QUIRK continues to solidify it as a publisher with a very distinct curation. Seeking things that are different, but altogether familiar using pop-culture themes one can all identify with while presenting entertaining news stories which one could easily see adapted into comics, film, television or cartoon.

THE CON ARTIST by Fred Van Lente (published by Quirk Books) is priced at $14.99 and is available in paperback and e-book
https://www.quirkbooks.com/book/con-artist

HOPE NEVER DIES by Andrew Shaffer (published by Quirk Books) is priced at $14.99 and is available in paperback and e-book
https://www.quirkbooks.com/HopeNeverDies

I also recommend following both authors on Twitter (and other social media) as well as Quirk books:
@fredvanlente
@andrewtshaffer
@quirkbooks

“Huh huh” Ooooooooooooooh” We’re Back!

When Regular Show reached its somber but brilliant conclusion it did so in a way that truly put a perfect ribbon on the entire program. Leaping ahead 25 years through flashforwards showing us Rigby and Mordecai’s lives up until a reunion at the park. We know that they’ve gone onto to have excellent marriages and have risen now grown children in their late teens to early 20s. I mean that is if you watched the show. If you didn’t though I can’t imagine why you would care about any Regular Show comic. The show had a strong enough fanbase though to not let that be the end and BOOM knew it.

Regular Show: 25 Years Later is a series that picks up directly from the final scene of the show. As the boys reminiscence they go off to to video shack. On the way there though Benson asks asks them to go them some ice since they’re all out and don’t have time to wait for a freezer to make some. This should be simple, they’re mature, older men now… go to to the store, get a bag of ice, simple.

This is still Regular Show and things don’t go as planned and then in well.. regular fashion, they get weird. Then they get weirder. Then they get really weird. Then just when it seems things seem okay, the cliffhanger ending of issue one hits and you have no clue where this story may go. It has many options, time travel, body switching, space, fantasy lands, pure ridiculousness.

Christopher Hastings who has written excellent issues of Adventure Time definitely understands the voices of Rig and Mord and for creating wackiness. The street art background of illustrator Anna Johnstone definitely allows for a super fun and different look to the well know characters while keeping them familiar and on point. Along with the subdued but colorful palette and hues of Joana Lafuente the book truly feels like a proper beginning to a new end for a friendly bird and raccoon and their entire friends and families saga.

Issue #1 of Regular Show: 25 Years Later is currently available in comic shops, for mail order through the BOOM! Studios site, as well as digitally through various sites.

Cool Dad will always be cool!

I made a tweet or two about how much I loved Cool Dad-Official Trailer on [adult swim].  I expressed simply what I wish I knew more about it and amazingly co-director/writer/creator Ariel Gardner sent me a message asking what I wanted, then proceeded to give an excellent Post-Mortem, stating I could contact him if I had follow-up questions.

ME: Everything Ariel, from conception to the final product. How it was devised, why, developing the full on crazy logos, getting the actors, having it be an [adult swim] “infomercial” versus anything else. I’d love an entire post-mortem.

Ariel’s long thread reply:
It’s something we’d been giggling about for years to do as a sketch, but we knew we couldn’t do it without money. Adult swim brought us in to pitch ideas and fortunately they liked that one best, it was our favorite too.

Initially it was built around the idea “Jelly Daddy”, which was in the script as the second beat after cool dad until just before shooting.

We were having trouble executing the concept and then we realized family guy had already done a dad with no bones concept anyway, so we scrapped it, restructured the script with planty daddy

Also the climax of our first draft had to be completely rewritten at the last minute as it was becoming clear it would be unfeasible to shoot with our budget.

The initial idea was the trailers would start coming faster and faster with all sorts of daddy premises until it devolved into sort of This Boy’s Life evil stepdad story until he wishes for his dad back. Would’ve been fun and more chaotic, but I prefer how it turned out

Jerry was our first choice and we were so happy he said yes. He’s a great guy. Andrea we’ve always been a fan of from her work on Stella. Parker the son is someone we’ve been working with for a long time, initially on our web series “fishbowls are definitely my thing”

Nathan the cop is a long time friend, the others were suggested to us by abominable and they were perfect

As to why it was devised, idk, as long as I’ve been alive there’s been so many father-son centric family fantasy comedies, the repetitiveness of these concepts seemed like a fun idea to play with and was right in our wheelhouse to write

It was ambitious but accomplishable and we laughed a lot throughout the whole process. A fun culmination of all the sketch work we did over the years. V grateful adult swim took a shot on it.

And here are the follow up questions I sent.  I actually sent them all at once, but for ease of reading have it broken down and edited structure by question/answer where applicable.

ME: When was Cool Dad shot? Jerry has been so focused on his new cop show that I wonder if it was awhile ago? How long was the shoot?

ARIEL: We shot late last year, maybe late October or early November.  It was a one day shoot. The original script had a lot more to it and we had to do everything we could to wrap it all in one day.

ME: In terms of structure of something with a more complicated linearity in which it might take a viewer a second to get it, how was the shoot structured for continuity?

ARIEL: Not sure if this question is what you mean, but the shoot was structured by location. We would shoot all the pieces in one part of the house with two cameras then quickly change wardrobe and shoot the next one. (ed note: this is exactly what I meant.  Knowing it was shot location to location helps perspective of editing)

ME: Do the fake names of the director, writer, etc. have any significance?

ARIEL: I came up with a list of fake names and those were the ones that happened to be cleared legally. No significance but fun to do. Stan Loriette is something our editor uses a lot apparently. Timothy Michael-Creeksy is my personal favorite.

If you haven’t seen Cool Dad!-Official trailer yet, go do so here:
http://www.adultswim.com/videos/infomercials/cool-dad-official-trailer/

Selling and Killing and Killing what you Sell (again and again)

Retail work can be hell. Especially when you run your own business shop. There’s ordering, pricing, displaying, selling, keeping customers happy; Keeping track of trends, supply and demand, influx, stock, reorganizing, running the register. To some in Japan that in itself would be a good game. I’m sure that game even exists, but imagine if on top of running the store you also had to go and get your own supplies and products to sell? What if those products could only be procured by fighting monsters and getting strong enough to get more and more product to sell while also helping see your surrounding village and merchants grow and succeed as well? What if you had a dream of escaping the duldrum life of running a strom and just adventuring and discovering mysteries without the worries of that store work life? Yet, the only way to ever reach that dream was to actually make the shop so successful your adventure becomes everything it entails.

 

That is what MOONLIGHTER from developer Digital Sun (published by 11 bit studios) is a fanciful nutshell. Yet, that is a narrative painterly description of the game. While the game is ambitious, and very ice to look at, it definitely doesn’t reach the platitudes I have presented. That is not to say the game isn’t worth your time, as it definitely is.

Before I get to any of the praise let me discuss some of the “downfall” the game suffers IMHO.

Moonlighter is a grind if you’re not a seasoned and never fail gamer. I have seen speedruns and videos showing folks getting through this game easily, I am not one of those people, nor will I ever be. There is a lot to keep track of as you attempt to make money by selling your wares, yet keeping aware of what you have as items you procure are equally needed to upgrade your armor, weapons, and spells. The combat isn’t inspiring, there are no combos. You dodge and you hit, you remember patterns and you hope your fingers are fast enough to follow those patterns as you press buttons. Yes, that is like much combat but it offers no variety or ingenuity, but it does look good.

The store management is not as exciting as one would hope. The reactions from customers, knowing if an item needs to go up or down in price or kept the same, placing the items in a four grid, how many of an item, not accidentally selling an item you need to get the better word so you can survive longer in dungeons to get better items. None of it as actually fun. It can even be aggravating at times. I found myself yelling out loud at the customers, but they can’t hear me cause it’s actually just me yelling at my computer screen. Yet somehow it’s still fun. There’s something inherently fun about it.

That’s the big thing. Even when frustrated the game is a lot of fun. Helping that happen is the excellent pixel art along with an incredible soundtrack and sound design. These two things and the concept propel the world of Moonlighter into being a game you don’t mind having to go back to dungeons and to the store and to the dungeons over and over and over. If life in retail had a soundtrack and visual appeal like Moonlighter even more people would love it. It’s that feeling that makes me recommend the game to pretty much anyone who seeks a gaming experience both familiar and like nothing they have never had. Give it a spin… you’ll get sucked in even as you want to quit, which is a strange but great feeling.

MOONLIGHTER is available now on Windows, PS4, Mac, Xbox One, and Switch.

You can also get the OST on Bandcamp.

 

 

Over the Garden Wall and Into Hollow Town (Press release)

 

BOOM! Studios is proud to announce OVER THE GARDEN WALL: HOLLOW TOWN #1, beginning a new five issue limited series set in the world inspired by the Emmy® Award-winning Cartoon Network animated series Over The Garden Wall.

Writer Celia Lowenthal (The Storyteller: Fairies) and artist Jorge Monlongo (Powerpuff Girls, Rugrats) send Wirt, Greg, and Beatrice on an all-new adventure in the Unknown as they stumble on a small town inhabited entirely by eerie porcelain doll-people. After Greg loses a shoe to a pond-turtle, it’s up to Wirt to earn money for a new pair, leading him to babysit some doll-children that may cause Wirt to stay in town forever…

OVER THE GARDEN WALL: HOLLOW TOWN #1 features a main cover by Celia Lowenthal, along with variant covers by Natalie Hall (Adventure Time) and Miguel Mercado (Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers).

“With OVER THE GARDEN WALL: HOLLOW TOWN, I’ve been trying to lean into and expand upon some of the great aspects of the show: adolescent social anxiety, patterns and tropes from fairytales, and – of course – spooky things from the woods that aren’t quite what they seem,” said Celia Lowenthal. “Over The Garden Wall is just such a good story; it’s really awesome to get to play around in its universe and, hopefully, do something new and fun!”

“I love everything about Over The Garden Wall –  the characters, colors, music… and the way horror and tenderness blend together,” said Jorge Monlongo. “Working on this new series so exciting.I enjoy drawing old houses and antique clothes, malefic trees, sinister creatures and frogs. But what I love the most is drawing Greg!”

OVER THE GARDEN WALL: HOLLOW TOWN is the latest release from BOOM! Studios’ award-winning KaBOOM! imprint, home to comics for middle grade and younger readers including licensed series such as Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Peanuts, and Garfield, along with original series like Mega Princess by Kelly Thompson and  Brianne Drouhard, Bodie Troll by Jay Fosgitt, and The Deepby Tom Taylor and James Brouwer.

“I’m excited to head back to The Unknown for more adventures with Wirt, Greg and Beatrice,” said Whitney Leopard, Editor, BOOM! Studios. “Pat McHale created an amazing world with Over The Garden Wall and we’re really excited about this chance to introduce readers to more adventures with these amazing characters. Celia and Jorge have created a special story in OVER THE GARDEN WALL: HOLLOW TOWN about family, responsibility and the true dangers of strange dolls, you don’t want to miss is.”

Print copies of OVER THE GARDEN WALL: HOLLOW TOWN will be available for sale in September 2018 at local comic book shops (use comicshoplocator.com to find the nearest one) or at the BOOM! Studios webstore. Digital copies can be purchased from content providers, including comiXology, iBooks, Google Play, and the BOOM! Studios app.

For more on OVER THE GARDEN WALL: HOLLOW TOWN and more from KaBOOM!, please visit www.boom-studios.com and follow @boomstudios on Twitter.

The Best Movie You’ll Never See

You gotta watch Cool Dad-Official Trailer from the team of Alex & Ariel Productions starring Jerry O’Connel, Andrea Rosen, Jay Jackson, Jay Lambert and more.  It claims to expire July 6th.  Hopefully it’ll be uploaded to Youtube or elsewhere.  It needs to live forever.

 

 

Phoenix Online is Going To The Stars

Adventures games are rarer and rarer these days so when one comes along, especially beautiful. indie and from a quality publisher I take notice.

The debut game of Spanish developer Risin’ Goat, A Rite from the Stars is a fun and clever point & click adventure game about Kirm, a young mute boy chosen by the Stars to undertake a mystical rite of passage to become a legend among his people.

In this coming-of-age story, players will explore the Mystical Island of Kaikala, home to the Makoa tribe, and pursue the three paths of Wisdom, Courage, and Spirit in any order they choose. Each path introduces new mechanics to solve unique challenges, ranging from action sequences to musical puzzles, with Kirm’s playable meerkat companion Mirk and guiding star Hoku on hand to collaborate on puzzle solutions and lend insight along the way.

A Rite from the Stars features beautiful 3D environments, a fully orchestrated soundtrack recorded with a live chorus, and a complete original Makoan language developed for the game! A Rite from the Stars will be released for PC, Mac, and Linux, and feature French, Italian, German, and Spanish translations on release. Learn more at www.risingoat.com.

The game is releasing later this year on direct download, Steam as well as other channels from Phoenix Online Publishing.

We will walk with Clementine one last time

Telltale’s The Walking Dead: The Final Season

Premieres August 14, Pre-Orders Available June 8

Clementine, now a fierce and capable survivor, has reached the final chapter in her journey. After years on the road facing threats both living and dead, a secluded school might finally be her chance for a home. But protecting it will mean sacrifice. Clem must build a life and become a leader while still watching over AJ, an orphaned boy and the closest thing to family she has left. In this gripping, emotional final season, you will define your relationships, fight the undead, and determine how Clementine’s story ends.

  • Emotional, Gut-Wrenching Story – See Clementine’s journey through to the end. As she builds a new life, you will have to grapple with new types of choices and live with the consequences as AJ looks on, learning from your every move.
  • More Control, More Tension – A new over-the-shoulder camera system, greater freedom to explore detailed environments, and scenes with unscripted combat capture the fear of living in a world overrun by the undead and create the most engaging The Walking Dead game yet.
  • Striking New Visual Style – The all-new Graphic Black art style rips the ink from the pages of the Eisner Award-winning comic book series and brings the world of The Walking Dead to life like never before. Supports 4K resolution and high dynamic range on compatible devices.
In addition, The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be fully dubbed in French, German, Latin-American Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. It will also be subtitled in French, German, Latin-American Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian, Russian, and both traditional and simplified Chinese. Episode one voice packs and translations will be available for download on launch day.

Episode one of The Walking Dead: The Final Season will be available for download starting August 14, 2018 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One across all regions. The Final Season will also come to Nintendo Switch later this year.  Starting June 8, players will be able to pre-order the game on PC, PS4, and Xbox One for $19.99. All players who pre-order The Final Season will receive download access to each of the season’s four episodes as they become available. Players who pre-order on PS4 and Xbox One will also receive immediate access to The Walking Dead: The Telltale Series Collection, which gathers all 19 existing episodes of the award-winning series into a single package.
PC players who pre-order on Steam, GOG, GamersGate, or the Humble Store will receive 10% off the full retail price. Win10 pre-orders through the Microsoft Store will unlock season one of The Walking Dead: A Telltale Games Series. All pre-order offers expire August 14.