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Your workaday cubicle-dwelling city life leaves you hollow, so you accept your grandfather's offer to go live in his old farm in Stardew Valley. It...needs some work.

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Overall: The game has amazing “flow” and the “just one more day” impulse is strong. The potential for addiction is very high. I quite enjoyed it, and recommend it with caution.
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Given that I’ve always liked Twilight Zone inspired sci-fi / spec-fi, and this is billed as an anthology along those lines, it seemed worth my time to give it a try. Spoilers for the first three episodes below.

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Overall: Intriguing ideas, less-than-perfect execution. I’ll probably watch some of seasons 2 and 3, but I may skip around based on recommendations, rather than watching them all.
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Millie - This is cute: It's a melding of Pac-Man with the classic "snakes" game. As you guide a centipede (Millie) through a maze and eat power pellets, she grows longer--and you have to avoid running into yourself. Collect enough power pellets and the exit opens; your score is determined both by time and how many other collectables you pick up. Later stages add one-way streets, tunnels and other complications. Virtually wordless but with some cute animations (particularly the help images).

16bit Trader - An underwhelming game of luck--guessing what prices will be in each city before you haul goods there, hoping to hit on something that actually makes you money. Did you like the "trading post" sidequest in Suikoden games? This is that as the entire game.

Merchants of Kaidan - Not quite sure what to make of this--it's a pseudo-rpg trading game, where you travel about doing fetch quests and looking for treasure, but mostly trying to arbitrage goods between cities. It’s better than 16bit Trader in that there’s more to it and there’s a bit less luck involved, but I’m still not wild about it.

Sparkle 2 Evo - Play as a hard-to-control micro-organism and eat various things you find to evolve into stronger, faster forms. You can shift up and down “levels” and the game is competitive, as each stage has opponent(s) that are trying to eat the various nutrients and possibly you as well. The graphics and music are going for “pretty and soothing”, but I didn’t feel that about the gameplay. I found the controls clunky and wasn’t enthused overall. This bundle also included Sparkle 3 Genesis, but I opted not to bother with it.

Violett Remastered - When her parents take her to a boring house in the country, Violett is sure it will be a terrible time. Of course, then she finds a magical amulet in the wall that shrinks her into a land of bug-people and fairies where she gains magic psychic powers. A King's Quest-style puzzle adventure game with the obtuse puzzles typical to the genre with an Alice in Wonderland sort of aesthetic. I suppose it’s worth trying if you’re really into the genre.

Frederic: Evil Strikes Back and Frederic: Resurrection of Music are apparently rhythm games (that play better via touch than mouse, according to reviews) but both of them hung at the initial loading screen on my computer.

Teddy Floppy Ear - The Race - As one of the “racing games” that ARR favors, this saw a decent amount of play. Honestly, though, I didn’t think it deserved it. It’s a mascot kart game without a significant difference between the different cars or racers; the power-ups are generally indistinguishable and three-quarters of the tracks are locked. The bundle also included two other games in the series, Teddy Floppy Ear – Kayaking and Teddy Floppy Ear - Mountain Adventure.

Iesabel - This is a Diablo-style top-down action RPG; decent system but not really my thing for the long haul. It’s obviously full of subquests; it’s got a full skill tree and a crafting system; and there’s a massive map for each of three acts. But the plot and game style don’t grab me (especially for a game likely to take dozens of hours to beat) and mouse-and-keyboard controls have never been my preferred style.

Overall: I was underwhelmed by this bundle, as many of the games seemed like they had potential and then just didn’t do it for me, for one reason or another. I mean, I definitely got my money’s worth, but I think I had hoped for better.
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Grey Cubes - This is a Breakout/Arkanoid-style "break the blocks by bouncing a ball" game, but a very clever one. There are 60 set stages, an assortment of power-ups, and while you have limited lives, you can sacrifice some accumulated points to regain them. While there was an occasional issue with a 3D setpiece blocking my view of the board, in general I thought this was well-designed and fun.

Close Order - A relatively slow-moving space shooter in which you control a small fleet that always flies in formation; searching for the remnants of a lost humanity but mostly just trying not to get blown up by waves of enemies. Meh.

AXYOS - An early access FPS online-arena game. The character customization is nonexistent (apparently the game isn't even really in beta yet) so it's mostly just "run around and shoot some dudes". It's playable, but that's all I can really say about it.

Stigmat - A "masocore" platformer, where not only are you likely to die a lot, that's pretty much the gimmick of the game, and it's clear in the very first level that they'll resort to nasty tricks to kill you early and often. The thing is, the graphics are dark and not very clear, and the controls are a bit janky, which means that many of my deaths just felt unfair due to the poor system, not because I was incompetent or because I was tricked.

Slipstream 5000 - A DOS-based flight sim/racing game where you apparently can shoot down foes--I say "apparently" because I could barely tell where I was going, much less find anything to shoot.

Broken Dreams - More like "Broken Fourth Walls," am I right? A puzzle platformer featuring a couple who try to get together with help from temporal shadows and similar trickery. It’s super-short, with only 25 levels and 5 bonus levels, most of which can be taken down in a minute or so. Not bad, but nothing I haven’t seen done better elsewhere.

PING 1.5+ - Get the bouncing ball (cube) to the exit in each level with a limited number of shots/bounces. There are vastly superior approaches to the concept; Luna’s Wandering Stars is the most prominent in my mind.

Vapour - A horror exploration / FPS game that has lovely graphics that are too dark to see, wonky controls, and apparently no HUD—which meant I couldn’t figure out how much health I had or, even with the “hints” activated, what the hell I was doing. It’s also full of jumpscares and inexplicable combat, did I mention? (Apparently, you’re playing a demon/human hybrid created by a cult but who escaped to terrorize them. Who likes to curse a lot.)

Doodle God - Combine the four base elements to make everything else in the world in a puzzle/casual game. Most of the combinations aren't terribly intuitive (at least to me), but randomly trying combinations is moderately fun. I think the biggest problem is that it's a guessing game more than anything else, and there are a LOT of combinations that do nothing but you'd think would do something. Why on earth does Sand + Egg make Turtles, for instance? Shouldn't that be Lizard + Stone or Lizard + House?

A Wolf in Autumn - A horror exploration game in the vein of The Moon Sliver. Warns you in advance that it has no save system and takes about an hour to complete, which is helpful to know. The strange story of a girl in a shed with an abusive mother who speaks via transmitter boxes, as the girl solves various puzzles to break out. I think I’ve found other games in this genre most intriguing, but it’s moderately interesting and technically decently designed.

Overall: Grey Cubes won me and Doodle God was entertaining. The rest of the lot I’d generally recommend other examples of their genres over them.
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These were all games with some potential—I do rather like rpgs—but also likely to be not worth the time to play through.

Hero of the Kingdom - This is a strange melding of point-and-click adventure / hidden object game, and a storybook rpg like Sorcery! You can’t actually lose; the game is mostly about finding all of the hidden objects and managing your resources to complete all of the quests. Which means it’s very simple, but in turn strangely entrancing.

The real key to the game is that there's an infinite money loop that you can access fairly early on. If you buy sacks of grain from the farmer on the north map (30 gold) and have the miller turn them into flour (5 gold), the farmer's wife on the north map will bake them into six loaves of bread each. Those loaves can be sold on the game's second screen for 9 gold each (54 gold, for a profit of 19 gold for each bag). This radically cuts the amount of hunting and fishing you need to do to afford hiring and outfitting soldiers, which in turn makes the game more pleasant.

Bardbarian - Arena fighting / defense game in which you play a barbarian warrior who traded in his axe for a lute, and now commands a group of warriors against the endless goblin hoards. Each time you fail, you can spend the gold you'd acquired on various upgrades. Moderately entertaining as a casual game.

Stick RPG 2: Director's Cut - So, the "stick" part is that all of the characters walked out of an XKCD comic. The game world, on the other hand, is a general-life rpg, in which you wander around trying to earn money and increase your stats. My starting stats were barely enough for a job at Starbucks, which decreases your stats randomly as you do it. There are much better approaches to this style of game.

Demonicon - Action RPG, third person view, gigantic files and an attempt at pretty "real is brown" graphics. (Though the character models hit the uncanny valley hard.) We open in a world when the summoned demon was overthrown but most of the land is still held by dark wizards, and our protagonist is entering an evil mountain to find his sister, who is fleeing her arranged marriage. The combat is rather clunky, and I was barely twenty minutes into the game when I apparently went into the wrong path and triggered a battle but not a trap, which meant there was no way to get out of the trap once I took the right path. And it auto-saved there. I'm not playing ten hours with more risk of that bullshit.

Sudeki - Action RPG, with a style that reminds me a bit of the land-based Drakengard combat. I found the timing for the combo hits obtuse and if you can't get combos down, then the combat is just boring and repetitive (run into an area, kill everything that spawns there, repeat). There was something about the world being split in two and legendary heroes returning from a battle against the dark god, but that didn't really matter to a soldier on the ground.

Drakensang - This and Demonicon are apparently both based on a German tabletop rpg system called "The Dark Eye", originally created because the developers were too cheap to license D&D. I was potentially interested, but this won't run properly on my PC, and given my lousy impression of Demonicon, I'm not going to go out of my way to make it work.

This bundle also included Deep Dungeons of Doom, which I played in a previous bundle. Key is available if anyone wants.

Overall: The games that were trying to be something other than traditional rpgs actually were much more fun; though to be fair, I’m going to be a lot more picky about games that require dozens of hours of investment to get through.
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Orion lives in a remote village where he is the youngest person, as few children have been born and people keep dying off. His wedding to the youngest woman in the village is meant to bring hope for the future. But a chance encounter with a strange blue woman indicates that much more needs to be done if the world is to actually be saved.

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Overall: Very short, relatively easy, a little clunky but some interesting ideas, and it stands out from the usual Exe-Create/KEMCO games in a bunch of ways. And I couldn't argue with the price.
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Many years before the events of Alphadia, but after the events of the Energi War that rocked that world, clones are attempting to integrate into society, and a guildman named Fray is tasked with figuring out why some of them are going rogue.

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Overall: This is the most “more of the same” I think I've ever seen. The system is basically identical to half a dozen other Exe-Create KEMCO games, and the plot is generally a retread of every other pseudo-medieval magitek fantasy jrpg. There's nothing bad about it, it's not a bad game by any means, but there's absolutely nothing special or standout about it.
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So, most of these games actually came onto my list in 2015. I played some of a bunch of these games when I bought them, then got distracted. Some of them I managed to get back to; most of them I decided I wasn’t that interested in revisiting given everything else I have to play.

The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom - A puzzle platformer with a cute aesthetic. (Winterbottom is a Victorian pie thief with a Snidely Whiplash bent, who lucks into time-travel powers while chasing a floating pie.) You can “record” actions and then clones of Winterbottom will do them until cancelled, and you can use those clones to hit switches, act as platforms, knock you around, and more. The actual puzzles (after the intro chapter) are NOT easy.

Fearless Fantasy - A short and sweet, goofy, anachronistic story about a Princess and a pair of bounty hunters killing the evil king and his pet giant snake-thing. The gimmick is that the battle system, while it has levels and advancement, is 99% dependent on taping and swiping "timed hits" to deal and avoid damage. If you enjoy that system in, say, the Paper Mario series, then you'll likely enjoy this. I'd recommend the Android version of the game over the Steam one, because swiping to fight is much easier on a touchscreen than with a mouse.

Saturday Morning RPG - Morty dreams of a video game world where The Wizard gives him a magic trapper keeper that allows him to turn mundane items into video game attack powers. The graphics are fancier than you’d think at first glance—sprites are 2D, but the screen is a pseudo-3D that gives everything a “cardboard standup” kind of feel. The RPG aspect is mixed—it’s not clear how effective any of the attack items are until you use them, and the battles rely more on clever use of charging up and making effective timed hits for attack and defense than they do on grinding. (It also seems like enemies—and therefore XP and money—are finite in each area.) It is positively swimming in Saturday morning cartoon references, as one might expect: Early available weapons include the Sword of Omens and Rainbow Bright’s belt; the very first sidequest is a Smurfs send-up.

Beat Hazard Ultra - This is a mouse-and-keyboard bullet hell shooter with a twist: The levels are defined by the song in the background, and it can pull in any mp3 from your collection. The genre isn’t really my thing, but I was willing to go a couple of bucks for the gimmick. (Note: It doesn’t run well under Windows 10.)

Paper Sorcerer - A curious eastern-western rpg blend, where exploration is first-person mouse-and-keyboard, but battles are turn-based and very reliant on summoned helpers. (It includes a “1980s” difficulty level!) It has an interest black-and-white art style that is explained by your character being a villain trapped in a magical book by heroes. I’m very reminded of Wizardry 4 in terms of the setup.

A New Beginning - Final Cut - A puzzle adventure game in the grand King’s Quest tradition, where you must pick up everything and attempt to use things on other things in vaguely logical ways. In the future, the world is dying and humanity is all but gone, and a small team of time-travelers are sent back to try to head off the disaster before it starts. I’m nominally interested in the plot, but the mechanics of this style of game tend to irk me.

Grimind - Puzzle platformer with a horror theme and strange physics that make it very hard to throw things where you want them. I really didn’t like it.

The Stanley Parable - This I played recently, and it’s a delightful FPS/puzzle exploration game that plays out like a Choose Your Own Adventure novel. It is insanely meta. I quite enjoyed it.
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Mr Nibbles Forever - A cute little side-scrolling runner in which you play a tiny hamster zipping around, collecting corn and trying to avoid spiders. It actually reminds me a bit of a less-offensively-oriented Sonic the Hedgehog. You can either go for distance, or take on challenges to try to unlock extra skins. There's a random wheel of prizes, but they seem to mostly be one-use (Magnet and Double Jump both vanish after one run, and you can only use an extra life once per run). Not a lot to it, as the stages don't vary much and there are only a couple of areas (that all link together), but amusing.

So Much Blood - A dungeon-crawl shoot-em-up which only allows you to fire left or right; you try to collect enough "blood points" to buy better weapons and more life hearts so you can reach and beat the boss at the end of each area. Every 30 seconds, more enemies spawn. I applaud them for building a "respawning enemies" shooter into something that actually has a goal, but that doesn't mean I found it fun for more than a few minutes. Oh, and if you’re wondering about the graphics scheme: It’s right there in the title.

Virtual Rogue - I think there should be a rule that if you use the word "rogue" in your title, you need to have made a roguelike to some degree. This is a survival shooter (with an “inside the computer” theme), in which you travel through randomly generated maps, fight enemies, pick up power-ups and periodically face a boss. The only roguelike part is that there's permadeath.

Curvatron - Do you remember the "snakes" game that typically came with QBASIC installs on old computers, where you needed to eat numbers but your tail kept growing and you needed to not hit yourself? This is that, only the snake automatically curves and you constantly need to be moving with a "wave" motion to avoid hitting yourself or other obstacles. It's a gimmick puzzler that didn't win me.

Cosmic Leap - Help the former rebels / current game show contestants circle and jump from planetoid to planetoid in individual puzzle-ish levels that usually end with them getting blown up. Cute concept and framing story, that actual action gets old fast.

Spunk and Moxie - A hybrid runner / puzzle-platformer where you try to guide a bouncing blob of goo through various obstacle courses and collect gems while doing it. The graphics and bright and cheery and the controls are one-button simple. It didn’t grab me for long, but I think it’s a decent little game if your reflexes are up to snuff.

Raining Blobs - Variation on the "Mean Bean Machine" concept, for when you're in the mood for that. (The main variation is that some blobs have stars, and you need two stars to make a set disappear. This makes the strategies for setting up chain reactions slightly different.) They get credit for having arcade, versus and puzzle modes, but the “crazy speed up” every few levels gets out of hand quickly.

Super Ubie Island REMIX - A level-based platformer where you play as a little green alien trying to collect various coins, gems and bugs and eventually the pieces of his crashed spaceship. The controls are good and the graphics are cute (and non-pixelated), but this doesn’t have anything that makes it stand apart from the platformer crowd.

This Book Is A Dungeon - This is effectively a text adventure (just one with a few pictures and a map) with a horror exploration theme. You find a mysterious book and are drawn into a horrible dungeon world, where you have opportunities to solve puzzles and/or die horribly.

Mazement - The evil Pyramid has enlisted the foolish Squares to lock up all the Balls...except you! You need to roll around, avoiding enemies and rescuing everything round. If you remember the old marble-based labyrinth game (or have ever played Super Monkey Ball) you'll be well-suited for the control scheme here. There are a dozen levels in the prison, then half a dozen more in the witch's dungeon where she turns you into an egg for spilling her brew. Decent fun.

This bundle also included Overture, a shoot-em-up which I already had.

Overall: I definitely enjoyed Mr. Nibbles. Most of the others were thoroughly middling; not so bad that I have anything against them, but not so good that I was really hooked by them.
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Occasionally, I look at my backlog and say, “Man, I don't even know why that's on there. I don't really want to watch it.” And even more occasionally, I'm smart enough to remove things. There's more than enough media to consume without forcing myself to watch things I added on a whim but don't enjoy.

Lost Girl (TV Series) - It's like somebody watched Charmed and thought it was the best show ever, except that it needed less of the lovey-dovey "family" stuff and more sexy-sexy. So with a similar off-brand fast-and-loose approach to mythology, but a succubus instead of three witches as the protagonist, we have this show. I found myself irritated that the Fae are "dark" and "light" when the perfectly-good and much less hokey (and loaded) term "seelie" exists. A subplot of the first few episodes could have been shortened to "Can you teach me how to control my hunger?" "Yeah, boink the werewolf." It's not funny enough to watch for the comedy, and the characters (and their drama) aren't interesting enough to watch for them. Oh, and it initially aired on network TV, so you know the sexiness is just going to be cheesecake tease rather than anything of note (either in terms of titillation or plot value).

Shameless (US TV Series) - I made it through half of the first episode before I decided this didn't actually appear to me. Embarrassment squick and a misery parade for a struggling family doesn't appeal to me, even with the sexiness. (Especially since it managed to be wince-sexiness multiple times in half an episode.)

Fuller House (Netflix, Season 2) - Twenty-one years after Full House ended, the second generation of the family still lives in the old house, now with Kimmy’s once-and-future husband Fernando joining the main cast, DJ’s former suitors acquiring other girlfriends, and Stephanie falling for Kimmy’s long-unseen brother Jimmy Gibbler. The 30-minute episode length makes them feel much more “full” than the classic 22-minute episodes, with more plots per episode and more time to stuff in both new and old jokes, but I think I wore out the nostalgia value with season 1. I may go back and watch the rest of this season in a few years, when I'm feeling the need for late-80s sitcom goodness again, but for now I've had my fill. (And I suspect that when season 3 drops, I'll at least look through the episode list to see if there are any guest stars I want to see.)
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Why did Hannah Baker kill herself? Clay has just received a box of cassette tapes she recorded as a suicide note, and he's going to learn why. Hannah wasn't the only person who was hurt, and she's not the only one who's going to be.

SPOILER WARNING

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Overall: This is dark and hard to watch, but fascinating. It skirts the edge of a misery parade for multiple characters, but if you like teen drama, it's probably for you. HELLA TRIGGER WARNING.
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Jethrien and I saw BNL in concert at BergenPAC in Englewood last Friday. It occurred to me that they've been performing for over 25 years at this point, and their special guests noted that they'd been performing for 55 years.

The oldest member of the Persuasions, incidentally, is 91 years old. And he's still got hella charm. When the lead singer started talking about whether their style of music was doo wop, or gospel, or motown, the older guy piped up, “We're folk musicians. We sing music for folks!” They did a lovely opening act of their own stuff, then came back for a bunch of sets with BNL—they apparently cut an album together, which I'm likely to buy.

Back to BNL, I think the group lacks some of the energy they had when I saw them 15 years ago, but that's logical given both time and the fact that Steven Page stopped touring with them some years ago. They dropped a bunch of the stage banter and goofiness I remember from that earlier show and their published live tracks. Ed took over some of Steve's classic vocals, and members of the Persuasions covered some of them. They did a nice mix of new and old material, and hit all of the classic hits. I think they realize that much of their audience is only middling on their latest albums and still want to hear “If I Had $1000000.”

As an aside: Jim Creeggan is the single ganglyest individual I think I've ever seen. I think he's only gotten ganglier with age.

Overall: Not the best concert we've seen, but we've also seen some really fantastic concerts in the past few years, so the competition there was fierce. Still a lot of fun.
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Time travel is real, and all of history is vulnerable to attack. Which is why we must travel through time to stop the spread of these so-called "time aberrations" and to erase their damage to history. We are a team of outcasts and misfits, so please don't call us heroes. We're Legends.

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Overall: Apparently the creators felt the biggest problem with the series was that it wasn’t quite crazy enough—and I think they were right! While one could argue that the show is overall still pretty dumb, it's all the fun you would want from a time-traveling, dysfunctional superhero team.
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It occurred to me during a recent on car trip that I had some follow-ups to my original Song Headcanons post.

Jethrien and I were talking about "I Won't Give Up" by Jason Mraz. She thought the line, "Even if the skies get rough," was a dumb mixed metaphor until I pointed out that the song could be a romance between two sky pirates. Which really works, don't you think?

(This started a longer discussion about which other songs in my mix playlist could be used in "Sky Pirates: The Musical. "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Öyster Cult was another one, despite clearly "really" being about sex.)

Though the various band members and the songwriter have given conflicting stories over the years, you'll never convince me that "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone is anything but a comedy song. I mean, come on, he's desperately pining over a girl who he's never met and knows literally nothing about besides seeing her number written on a bathroom wall. That's satire of the standard "pining over an unobtainable girl" song if ever I've heard it.

I'm not sure it's actually in dispute, but ;"Welcome To The Jungle" by Guns N' Roses isn't actually about a jungle (or even an urban jungle) at all, right? The "jungle" in question is the dude's pubes, and he's proposing totally nasty sex. (I mean, seriously, "Feel my, my, my serpentine"?)

On a related note, I'll argue that ;"Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses is, in fact, about the singer's daughter.

Jethrien got me the new Meat Loaf album, and it includes a new mega-song called "Going All The Way Is Just The Start (A Song In 6 Movements)". While there are probably other interpretations, I'm putting it under my usual umbrella of every song Jim Steinman has ever written, that it takes place between two teenagers in the back seat of a parked car. (Seriously, think of any Meat Loaf / Steinman song ever, and tell me that interpretation doesn't work.)

And we came to the realization that "Pour Some Sugar On Me" by Def Leppard and "You Shook Me All Night Long" by AC/DC are essentially the same song, just the "before" and "after" versions of it.
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The destined hero is pulled from his homeland to defeat the Dark Lord, but it’s too early and neither he nor his spirit companion are terribly enthused by this. But was he truly pulled from another world? Did they travel in time from the lost city of Crystareino?

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Overall: Middle-of-the-road for KEMCO games, runs about a dozen hours with decent pacing but nothing strongly standout.
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So, following a weekend of adventures and excitement, ARR spent three days of spring break at Camp Papa & Gramma, where he played with many Transformers, drew giant towns with chalk, went to the beach, and successfully conned them into two trips to McDonald's. He also got his first haircut sitting by himself in a big-boy chair (rather than on Papa's lap), and successfully received the three lollipops he had negotiated with the barber for during his last visit. Reportedly, after the haircut, he looked at himself in the mirror and announced, “Hey, good looking!”

On Wednesday, he came home and Grammy came to stay with us for the remainder of the week, so they had park, game and crafting adventures for two days.

On Saturday, he had a friend's birthday party at a pizza restaurant, where each kid got to make his own pizza. He waited patiently through the cheese step, and the other parents were very impressed when he rejected pepperoni and pineapple in favor of covering his pizza with broccoli, peppers and mushrooms. After eating, the boys were given tokens for the game room, where he did a decent job at his very first games of skee-ball and wack-a-mole. And we fought with a crane game until he got a rubber duckie from it.

On Sunday, we had an Easter brunch with Grammy and Grampy. Jethrien made deviled eggs and homemade (dairy-free) cinnamon rolls, and we ate too much, leading to the grown-ups eating salad for lunch. Then we realized that after hiding and finding plastic eggs a dozen times and doing the Easter crafts, we'd run out of plans for the day. So I sent out a text and we slowly acquired B, J, Ivy and Xannoside as we traveled from our house to Van Vorst Park to B's house and finally to sushi dinner.

Monday was ARR's last day of spring break, so I took off from work and we went to Liberty Science Center. The two major milestones: He's now tall enough (42”) to go on the Infinity Climber. Given that he can climb mountains, I knew he could handle this, and though he insisted I come with him the first time, he was soon handling it like a champ. Second was “the Sneeze Man,” a sneezing statue in the Infection Connection exhibit that has terrified him for over a year. “Now that I'm four, I'm not scared of the Sneeze Man.” And sure enough, now he found it funny, and we could enter that section of the museum again.

Oh, and when a smaller child tried to pull him away from the elevator buttons, ARR exclaimed, “Mister Grabby Hands!”

And just to cap it off, he's managed a dry pull-up every night since break started, so last night he slept in underpants. I'm sure we'll have a few accidents, but there's another major milestone right there.
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While the history of the World of Darkness is always a conflicted and mutable thing, I appreciate books that attempt to nail it down in a coherent (and at least self-consistent) fashion. This is one such book, detailing the history of the werewolves and other changing breeds from the prehistoric times through the modern era; and providing plot hooks for major events and points in time.

Read more... )

Overall: There are some really fun ideas here. Is this the “true” history of the WoD? No, of course not, there is no such thing. But it (or pieces of it) might be for one campaign, and does anything else really matter?
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Daphne has just won a major award for her performance in her MMORPG of choice, Eternal Reign. Unfortunately, in doing so, she committed the crime of appearing female on the internet and the wolves descended. It’s “love in a time of GamerGate.” Fortunately, this is a romance novel, so it’s a reasonable assumption that by the end our hero will manage to find love, if nothing else. And that they won’t be arrested for forcibly removing chunks of sensitive bodily tissue from the fedora warriors.

Notes on content: This is hella queer, with pretty much the entire core cast being some flavor of LGBTQ. And as you might guess from the blurb above it includes (in a manner that makes it clear to the reader that they’re terrible) sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, rape threats, death threats and stalking.

Read more... )

Overall: Buy and read this book--unless you actually believe that anyone ever cared about ethics in games journalism, in which case feel free to buy forty copies (preferably direct from the publisher at full retail price) and set them on fire.  
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Siela and her sister own and operate Kamerina's Bar, but the nefarious Gustav, owner of the most popular restaurant in town, wants to buy them out and shut it down. Siela vows to make her restaurant so popular that Gustav can’t touch them. But that requires the freshest ingredients from all the local monster-infested dungeons. Can she really do it?

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Overall: This is more of a casual/simulation game than a true rpg, but it blends both game styles pretty well. Might be worth a go if you like that sort of thing.
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Earth, 2471 AD. The only thing that matters is The Game. As a Player - a trained Professional or a conscripted Amateur - you Port into The Splinter with an audience of millions watching your every move. In a VR mega-dungeon of infinite size, you will struggle in conflicts dire, for your very life, and for the entertainment of the masses.

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Overall: I strongly suspect I’m going to use this setting, or a bunch of major elements from it. But the system is a hot mess that I can’t imagine my players tolerating. (I suspect this needs a “second edition” by an experienced game design team who can streamline the rules.)

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