Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ching Chong Beautiful: More Floppy, Painful Fun Than A Night With Charlie Sheen

When I first played Ching Chong Beautiful, I was blown away by the funky Japanese game show music, wack visuals and hilarious voices. I had some trepidation playing it after hearing about the Rosie O'Donnell flap, but this is good clean and frenetic fun.

In this game your brother is being held by organized crime until you can cough up a racing thoroughbred. In a completely unforeseen coincidence, a crazy game show pops up on your TV, inviting would-be contestants to beat show personality Mr. Beautiful's obstacle course. The prize? Why, Mrs. Beautiful. Apparently she's some kind of hot horse.

CCB gives you a platform race with running, jumping and water-shaking abilities entirely consistent with an average 15-year-old. You can run while ducking, jump off walls, and grab ledges. Though the abilities are mundane, you always hear something funny when you pull off anything fancier than running. Each level has you grabbing blue icons of a fish wearing a trucker hat. When you're done, you high-five the construction worker at the end of the level, and you move on.

Backgrounds are very artfully designed and the environments gradually start to spice up. Though the first few levels may insult anyone over 10 years old, a few clever placements of terrain and obstacles engage a Ching Chong Beautiful player's patience and coordination. Somewhat like the Saw video game, more happens when you get owned. In this case, it's not lethal, but it sure is embarrassing.

Sound/Music: A+. One of the best overall Flash Game soundtracks, combined with some riotous adolescent klutz voice effects. Making it to the end of a level makes you feel like a champion with its exaggerated animations and blasting accolades.

Replay Value: B I hear hard mode is absolutely insane. Will have to check it out.

Graphics: A As smooth as you can get for hand-drawn animation. Over-the-top, like the Japanese game shows it seeks to emulate.

Controls: B+ A little frustration, where you don't get the same results for the same attempts, but the fun is in the challenge. Fortunately you don't die when you run out of time.

Originality: A- Not that much new in platformer tech but it's excellently packaged and executed.

Check out Ching Chong Beautiful at http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/520768.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Tiger Woods Parodies and Spoofs!

Admittedly, we've been slow to get on the Tiger Woods bandwagon. Why? Because spur-of-the-moment tributes and games based on celebrity hoo-hahs wind up being downright horrible.

But, this latest round of sack-the-celebrity (or in this case, celebrity in the sack) has turned up a few valuable minutes of entertainment, enough to get you through one fifteen-minute break.

Here's what we've dredged up with our Inter-net:

Nordegren Woods: An amusing parody of "Norwegian Wood" by the Beatles. Where in the world did they get that horrible CGI? XD

People from all around the world are responding to the scandal... even in England, where guitarist and singer Johnny Black cranked out "Celebrity Love Trauma", a "one song fits all" tip of the hat to celebrities who wake up to see themselves plastered across the world's consciousness.

Jimmy Kimmel enlisted Billy Dee Williams for this hysterical bit on a Tiger Woods Commemorative Plates Edition:

... and a take on his money-making options after leaving golf...

I know that Christmas is coming... so here are two 2-for-one videos...

Dermot and Dave from Dublin put together this amusing montage of five of the 12 days of Christmas. The lyrics are ok but the footage at the end is a riot.

Last of all, David Feherty foreshadowed a little with this amusing exchange...

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Friday, November 27, 2009

-Grid-: Deceptively Difficult, Superbly Slick

Candystand Games
is one of the more professional Flash game companies out there, with several entries on Newgrounds like Copy Cat, Gemworks, MagiGoo, and more. I haven't checked them out, but after staying home on Black Friday, I thought I'd try out their game -Grid-.

Graphics: Slick, quasi-3D background effects with abstract globes and a game board that disappears one row of tiles at a time make -Grid- an electric blue box of eye candy. The opening sequence especially is pure geometric overload. A-

Gameplay: A little repetitious and annoying when one wrong move turns off power and you have to carefully restore power bit by bit, or use the undo button. If you're an obsessive type, you can play this game all night to relax. Another bonus, for the sort of person who agonizes over a limited number of moves, is a cumulative score. Puzzle progression is solid, but I got stuck after five puzzles and just didn't care. B

Music: A bit on the wussy side (I like the electro-trance sounds of Electric Box a lot better), though ideal for accompanying the Zen-like state of mind you may need to enter for some levels. B-

Originality: I don't think "connect the circuit" has been unique for some time. While the presentation shows a lot of top-quality work, -Grid- suffers a brown-out trying to be a ground-breaker. C

Overall: If you're looking to get into a wild RPG that starts you out as a powerless peon and rocks you through battleground after battleground for a few hours, keep looking. What -Grid- is is a mind twist made for cold, logical types that plan their days 12 moves in advance. Despite the amazing graphics, to me it's a little soulless and dry. I honestly doubt anyone would pay to unlock the extra puzzles scattered through the level list, but you never know. The execution is near flawless, and the graphics border on mesmerizing when you clear a level. B-

The Slacker is a freelance writer and can be reached at sumosalesman@aol.com.
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Guardian Rock: A Minimalist Smash

A lot of times, minimalist games are from designers who are just cutting their teeth on Flash development and coding. But some of the most accomplished and original games have a clean, simple look that belies months of designing effort.

Guardian Rock is a great example of this second category. A title that takes box-moving games and requires a little bit of planning, GR casts you in stone -- I mean, in the role of a stone. You're the Guardian Rock, the last defense your ancient, treasure-loaded temple has from hordes of cute little archaeologists that squeak when you wind up and pulp them with thousands of pounds of force.

The game's difficulty curve is patient enough, but it ramps up quickly so that you're no longer breezing through ten levels at a time. The simplicity and cleverness in level design make for some fiendish layouts, and I've only made it to level 11 so far.

Animation, sound effects and visual effects (like cracking blocks and knocking dust off the ceilings) go hand in hand with the wacky 8-bit Nintendo-meets-reggae background music. The controls are very simple (directional keys) but you are able to obtain keys for smart bombs that clear a level. Sometimes even this isn't enough as you need to make sure you're lined up to exit the level, and sometimes you can accidentally strand yourself.

One plus (or minus, depending on how much time you have) is the requirement that you use MochiCoins to purchase upgrades. So far I haven't made a commitment to Mochi Games -- their virtual currency costs money -- but maybe someday when they send an innocuous, must-join Web 2.0 invite I'll bite. In the meantime, Guardian Rock offers 48 free levels. This game's definitely got my attention, and time will tell if I'll get the 24-level upgrade packs.

Overall rating: A-
Graphics: A- Simple yet functional.
Gameplay: A. One-way blocks, destroyable blocks, and more make for an interesting cerebral trip. May bore shooter fans.
Sound: A. Funky, lively, and well-balanced.
Replay value: B+. Remains to be seen whether I'll spring for the upgrade packs, but levels 1-10 have been brain-busters at times.
Other: A. Well laid out, and the interface was good enough to save 7 levels I played before I added my Facebook account.

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The Vermont Country Store: Stepping Out For Some Down Time

My grandfather made a lacquered red and black checkerboard with built-in trays for holding checkers after games. The checkers themselves were cross-sections taken from a wooden broom but they were so well painted and finished that they looked factory-made. The checker trays had thin painted wooden doors that would drag over the lacquer with a cool clacking sound. One side held the checkers in a 3x4 pattern, while the other stored them in a series of Xs.

From what I was told about the old days, they seemed grim, hard, and largely joyless. But having seen that checkerboard, and played a few games too, I realized that even back then all it took was a little set-up to find a time and place for a social game or two.

I watched the last vestiges of country stores in the area vanish in the 1970s, and always kept a fondness for reminders of the "olden days". This video of the Vermont Country store made me want to stop by and unwind for a while.

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Yee-Haw! What Rednecks Do For Fun

For those jobs where you don't have the supplies to make little footballs and ping them around cubicles, the chance to have fun is still there. Check out this one-ride, free-admission, industrial-strength Redneck Trailer Park.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mac Daddy's iPod Apps Ratings

In true Lost Productivity fashion, this scrap of paper has sat around for almost 3 months, so my apologies. But Mark Ferriter (aka the Mac Daddy) has this quick list of iPod apps with star ratings:

4 stars:

Dr. Blob
7 Cities
Toy Bot 1-3
Cops & Robbers
Soldier Ants

3 1/2 stars:

Missile Command
Elemon TD
Crazy Tanks
Strategic Assault
Distant Shore
Alien Abuse
Pocket God
Wolfenstein 3D

3 Stars:

Mole Chaser

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

testing twitter and blogger 1-2-3

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I gotta get back to my RL job... but hope 25 posts was good, and here is a good one to wrap up on: http://ping.fm/xikxM Have fun, thanks and good night!

Not exactly a playground... though there are menu bars! http://ping.fm/r3AGr

For the aspiring web designer... http://mycelly.com

So you wanna be a programmer, huh? http://ping.fm/MJCZu

I love arcana and other wild designs... http://ping.fm/RpP9O

Way to cool to comprehend at times but also another favorite flash animation site. It seems kind of 90s for some reason,in a good way http://ping.fm/dBJfy

http://ping.fm/dOBpw One of my all-time favorite animation sites.

Man! This artist has it in the bag! http://ping.fm/NSTuX

I wanna travel now! http://ping.fm/7KE9I

I need this really badly... if I ever have time not officially goofing around I'll study it! http://ping.fm/MqOJf

I feel a little sluggish today and this proves it. http://ping.fm/XqfUy

This is a story in one sentence: I found a site called onesentence.org. http://onesentence.org

I always wanted to paint Picasso style... http://ping.fm/RfKxf

Need something to read? Stymied by the economy? http://fullbooks.com//

Worst. Photobombs. Ever. http://ping.fm/A84ij

Oo! Book trading! http://bookmooch.com

Oh, I like this one. Turn your art into ASCII. http://ping.fm/huYdS

The best origami I've ever seen... http://ping.fm/EZdkO

Another treatment for writer's block: http://oneword.com

Gotta let it out of the box... http://pandora.com

You can't squeeze blood from a turnip... but you can squeeze music from a tree http://ping.fm/NAA4b

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Curse Village: A Fresh Take On A Rotting Genre

Zombie side shooters are strange beasts. Often a shoddily drawn game can have the best collision detection, while a professional flash game can bog down with an elaborately illustrated but cumbersomely animated character.

Curse Village looks like it was done by some pretty talented 15-year-olds. From the opening graphics to the somber piano music to the rousing intro sequences and subsequent action, the game looks well thought out and pretty solid. It also handles smoothly.

Excitement: A. With plenty of splatter, action sounds, and some pretty fast zombies, Curse Village rocks the house.

Originality: C This isn't to say Curse Village doesn't cover familiar ground well. It's just another version of "pick a zone", "buy and repair", and "give 'em hell". The Luger is the only unusual weapon out of 25 -- you'll see the rest in most shooters -- but Curse Village retreads old ground comfortably. Barricades, traps, and survivor allies help take the boredom out.

Graphics: A-. They have a cool home-brewed look to them and that brings me back to days where I used to draw action scenes in my notebook while I was in Social Studies. Rich and grim.

Controls: A. It seems a little odd at first to be controlling a disembodied gun, but hey, whatever. At least they tied the premise in with what looks like a little psychokinesis and some mysterious hitman. And you're also able to rove the entire play screen with ease, without being worried about getting hit. After a while you'll forget that tiny gun you're shooting is moving all by itself. Best of all you can damage zombies that are stacked on top of each other, which you sometimes can't do in other zombie games.

Sound: A+. Sinister synthesized zombie film music that would fit perfectly in any 1990s horror flick, and crisp gun and knife effects that don't sound like they were played and re-recorded on a microphone at home.

Replay value: A. Though it's partly because there's no save feature, I'll be going back to Curse Village for a couple more rounds, in the hope of seeing what's at the end of level 30.

Overall value: A- Get as involved as you want or walk away after a few rounds; this game is really fun.

Play Curse Village at http://www.kongregate.com/games/belugerin/curse-village.

New iPhone App Columnist Arriving: The Slack Daddy

Ladies and gents, slow payers of rents, slackers high and low, there's a new guy on the show: Slack Daddy. He's hard at non-work compiling a list of fun iPhone apps.

We're going to be ramping up the blog a notch, so stay tuned. If you like our site enough we hope you'll consider becoming a sponsor.

In the meantime, check out this game: Curse Village. We just stumbled on it random eye candy style, so if you don't play it, come back and read the review!


Monday, June 29, 2009

At It Again: Megaman X RPG: Chapter 1

The first Mega Man game I ever played was a worn-out NES game on its last legs. I had rented it out from a convenience store in Old Town, Maine, when I was in school in Orono in 1990. It had been rented so many times I had to huff on the contacts to make them work, though that ultimately killed it.

Mega Man has come a long way from mutated John Denver cover art, branching into a leggier version while staying faithful to the squat prototype that wowed us all in the late 80s. This fan tribute, while quietly bootleg in the sprites department, throws out an original mash of RPG elements and chop-chop sprite action.

MegamanX RPG offers an improved jump-in setup. Mash enough menu buttons and you can equip your found and purchased gear, spend points to upgrade a ton of chips, each with 5 or 6 abilities, level up techniques, and more. Featuring a lateral, WoW-style talent tree for each of the main characters, there's plenty of leeway for customizing your characters as you go along.

It's really a shame that Capcom hasn't offered this guy a job yet, as seen on the game itself. Fun writing, multiple paths, an upgrade system worthy of a professional game, and deep combat make Megaman X RPG worth checking out once more.

Excitement:B. The RPG elements are about as pulse-pounding as rock-paper-scissors, which can be taken either way. Still, the mad MM soundtrack can't help but snap you out of your lethargy and a lot of the limit breaks are pretty fun. And a lot of times the sharp writing gets you pumped up enough to make it through a menu-driven boss battle.

Originality:Visual content N/A, coding A+. With true-to-genre writing, item descriptions, and game mechanics, this game is a sleeper for the slacker wishing to convert his life into a few hours mastering a game.

Graphics:N/A. Spliced and diced. Nice try overall, though some of the pixellation was never seen in a real MM game.

Controls:A-. A chaotic clutter of options, with some bogdown if you're not 7331 enough to get it all down. Still very sharp and intuitive over time. At least it doesn't say "PC load letter" anywhere.

Sound:A-. Somewhat muffled to keep total file size down, but it's high-octane, original, and two slaps across the mouth because he freakin' likes us.

Replay value:B It's possible, if you want to re-evolve all your characters again. But it's a lot easier to wear a loud necktie and walk outside, too.

Overall value:A- A little constrained by having to patch an existing game into another, but if you can get past the stitching it's a very solid effort. Great for the die-hard Mega Man geek.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tower's Tactics: Aphelion: Major Originality Points!

I really like finding a home-brewed game system, whether it's a one-page RPG or a Flash game. When I saw Tower's Tactics, I thought "Hm, could be another decent tower defense game". However, TT completely threw off my expectations and turned out to be a fun, well-crafted game with a few very minor edges I wouldn't be any better pressed to fix myself.

Excitement: N/A.
This is a meter-based 2-D game, so it's a little on the slow side. It still does have its hectic fun as things warm up.

Originality: A+. While some might think TT could benefit from minor polish here and there, this title is an outstanding fusion of a creative mini combat system with multiple team members, a skill-learning system, and a campy, humorous tale of a medieval dude and his undead servant.

Graphics: A-. A curious mix, something like PHP meets a Renaissance Faire. Competent design with neat touches like a sword falling down when you're killed.

Controls: A-. Responsive enough, but it makes this 37-year-old a little squinty trying to click over and around small characters to point and click where I have to. To be fair, when you click on a special attack, you can mouse over multiple enemies until you find the right one.

Sound: A. Magnificent medieval-themed music with a haunting guitar and chant track for the world map. Combat sounds are a bit low-key but the music more than makes up.

Replay value: Unknown, but there is enough play going through the first time to make it a pleasant play.

Overall value: A

Check out Tower's Tactics: Aphelion at http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/495476.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

RP Flash Heaven: Megaman X: RPG Chapter 0

I always feel a little bittersweet about starting up a Flash game. I know it'll be like a candy bar where the enjoyment lasts about a minute and then it's all over. Considering the file size, it's an inevitability.

But every so often a game comes along, one that smashes the boundaries of file sizes, one that oozes, stretches and bends into several hours, even several days of deep, strategic gaming. Megaman X: RPG Chapter 0 is such a game. Taking its own sweet, luxurious time, this Newgrounds title takes this month's title crown of time wasters.

By turning Mega Man into a turn-based combat came, MMX cuts out most of the geegaws and lengthy programming sequences that give a Flash game a short life. Compressing itself into a package that would make a starlet at an awards ceremony blush with envy, MMX turns a lot of flat Mega Man sprites into a deep roleplaying experience with equippable head, arm, foot, weapon and body slots. Not only that, but players are also able to unlock special techniques by equipping special chips in there armor. The game encourages you to try to break it, even suggesting in the awesomely thorough tutorials that you wear several chips of the same time.

MMX's difficulty seesaws between laughably easy in the beginning to make-no-mistakes hard, but so far it's been a really fun ride. The mad robo-techno makes gearing up about as pulse-pounding as you can hope for, and while the sprites and explosions are a little pixellated, I don't care. It's what the designer has done with the action to make it all worth playing and building my robotic team up. There isn't any old-school arcade shooting here, but if you love the series and games where you can get lost in minute customization, MMX is the game for you. Play it at http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/491405.

B+. Turn-based, but it's involving.

Originality: A. RPG games have been done to death, but this one manages to cram as much content in as 25 students in a phone booth.

Graphics:B+. Limited, but they capture the overall Mega Man experience.

Controls:A-. A little awkward at first, and points off for not having mouseovers to explain the scan icon vulnerabilities to squinty old-schoolers, but otherwise well done.

Sound:A+. The music overcomes all sound effects, but it's part of the cool factor.

Replay value:?? I have a long way to go before finding out. I bet I could wrangle out some more play with some alternate strategies.

Addiction factor: A+. Be warned, don't have anything that remotely resembles work on the table once you pick this baby up. Call in sometime in the week and tell the boss you're not coming in.

Overall value:A+. A great effort and any natural shortcomings are just part of the Flash game experience. Try it out today...

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Quintessential Lost Productivity: Shopping Cart Hero

Check it out here: Shopping Cart Hero

Excitement: B+

Originality: B-

Graphics:A Points for minimalism!


Sound:A Just you, the cart, and the rocket.

Replay value:D A one-trick pony, but what a trick.

Overall value:B+ Ground-smashing fun for the whole family.