Monday, April 28, 2014

The Misanthrope's Guide to Star Tours: The Adventure Continues

Part of the Misanthrope's Guide to Disney World, a series of posts on surviving the theme parks for people who hate people. The main guide page can be found here, with links to previous posts.

While rides based on movies can be found in every Disney park, Hollywood Studios is the theme park dedicated to cinema in all its forms. Attractions themed to classic films and television shows, and in the case of the American Idol Experience, not so classic tv shows, form many of the key experiences. While Disney only recently purchased George Lucas's legacy of films, Hollywood Studios has long hosted one of the original Star Wars rides.

 Star Tours was a state of the art simulator ride when it opened in the 80s, featuring technology previously used to train fighter pilots. It remained a popular thrill ride for years, but the experience felt increasingly dated. Promised film updates never materialized, and simulators became so common that they could be found in shopping malls. Even the release of the Star Wars prequels did not inspire an attraction update, though that may have saved the world from Jar Jar Binks appearing alongside Mickey Mouse.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Videogameopolis: Chucky Mendoza and the Curse of the Pharaoh Review

Chucky Mendoza and the Curse of the Pharaoh
Developer: {ths}
Available from Itch.Io for $.99+ or Free (with optional payment) from Developer Website

Indie games tend to be labeled "retro" by people who don't appreciate the simpler, often pixel based aesthetics that those games often utilize. The reason for these art styles is usually not nostalgia, but rather a choice driven by artistic design or budget requirements. Occasionally, though, there's a game that proudly trumpets it's retro feel. Chucky Mendoza and the Curse of the Pharaoh sells itself as a nostalgic throwback to a simpler, more difficult era, one that may not be appealing to everyone.

Chucky Mendoza's feature list is a refutation of all the evolutions in game since its earliest days. It's a list of things the game doesn't feature, including "save points," "tutorials," "extras," and "achievements." Inspired primarily by 8 bit platforming games from the Commodore 64, it evokes their feel by avoiding any modern game design, except for slightly better pixel graphics.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Videogameopolis: Tone Friends Review

Tone Friends
Developer:  01010111
Available from Itch.Io for $1+

Tone Friends by developer 01010111 is advertised as a "cute collection of music and sound games for anyone to play." Comprised of five simple flash games based around the basics of music and sound, it's an interesting diversion that unintentionally pulls off a great feat. In a world comprised of exploitative business models disguised as games for kids, Tone Friends manages to be a great interactive experience for young children that can also teach a little about music, as well.

All games are entirely controlled by the arrow keys, and most are easy to comprehend with little instruction. The art style evokes some of the earliest video games, with simple pixel art work and black and white color palette. Flashes of color and some higher fidelity designs are used as accents, which stand out from the more primitive surroundings. Colors mark out success, help denote what's important in the game, or just provide extra feedback along with the sound.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Videogameopolis: Escape Goat 2 Review


Even though they encompass an incredible variety of ideas, most indie games tend to work within tried and true genres, whether to subvert them, perfect them, or use them as a tool for other purposes. Escape Goat 2 is a puzzle game that aims for perfection, minimizing most skill-based platforming while focusing on logic and timing puzzles. It also stars a purple goat and a mystical mouse, but that's not especially relevant. This game isn't a joke, unlike some other goat themed releases, and it deserves far more attention for its spectacular puzzle design.

Escape Goat 2 is the sequel to a pixel graphic puzzle platformer released in 2011. The original game received acclaim for its ingenious puzzles and intuitive learning curve, and even inspired a Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin? episode, but had to struggle through Greenlight to receive a release on Steam. The sequel has gained the honor of being the first game published by beloved developer Double Fine, but still has not received as much attention as it deserves.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Misanthrope's Guide to the 2014 Epcot Flower and Garden Festival

 Part of the Misanthrope's Guide to Disney World, a series of posts on surviving the theme parks for people who hate people. The main guide page can be found here, with links to previous posts.

Spring is a wonderful time in Florida. The weather is the perfect temperature, the summer storms have yet to arrive, and tourists only appear in sporadic bursts rather than a constant torrent. The birds are chirping, the rabbits are multiplying like rabbits, and Epcot's annual Flower and Garden Festival returns for yet another year. Like Spring itself, it's pretty much the same as last year, but it's definitely a welcome return.

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, for those who haven't read my previous articles on it, is a two month long celebration of flora and vegetation, along with the occasional sniff of industrial strength fertilizer. Traditionally, it's been the less attended of Epcot's major festivals, since staring at vibrant flowers has less general appeal than getting plastered on wine or seeing a dizzying array of international Santas. For a nature loving misanthrope, however, it's always been wonderful, as the non-Spring Break crowds were dead and the park came alive with vibrant colors.