Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Sunday Review

Ok, let's start with something different. Some time ago I quit all Facebook games cold turkey. When I won my iPad mini, I started playing Doctor Who: Legacy, because I'd heard so much good stuff about it. Since then, DWL has been the only game I play. My gamer itch has been satisfied, when I needed it, by watching The Adipose on Twitch. For example, I'd never play Fallout, despite how much it resembles Wasteland... but Adi's played it and I've been along for the ride.

Another game Adi has been playing recently is The Room 3. I thought it was fascinating, and checked out the earlier versions. To my pleasant surprise, The Room, the first one, is available free on iOS. So I downloaded it and tried it.

The Room by Fireproof Games - It's basically a puzzle box game. You are greeted by a safe and invited to open it by solving puzzles. And there are a lot of puzzles. To add to the atmosphere, there's a Victorian/Lovecraftian sense of horror in the music and background noises. The puzzles aren't hard, but can be challenging in unexpected ways. You have to listen, watch and touch everything you can see to come up with the solution. Sometimes you have to think *ahem* outside the box. There are hints available. The first time through, I used them. Then I played it again without the hints. It was surprisingly replayable, because there are so many puzzles to go through you can't remember the solution to all of them. A very satisfying game... although you are definitely left wanting more by the end.

I noticed one of the reviews in the Apple store complained about the occult nature of the game... I can say that there's not much, if any, in this game. There are symbols, but I didn't see more than a passing reference to actual occult symbols anywhere. Those were only used to lend the Lovecraft feel to the story. There are tarot cards at the end of the game, but again, mostly for atmosphere. This is a horror tale, to be sure, and there is an ongoing sense of "things man was not meant to know" in the letters you uncover... but actual occult? Not in this game. Maybe the sequels have more, but what I saw in Adi's playthrough shows more along the lines of Cthulu than actual real-world stupidity. However, if you are leery of anything even appearing to be occult, then you might find this game uncomfortable.

The Room was published in 2012 and is available for a variety of platforms, including Apple, Android and Amazon. As of this writing it is free on iOS, but not on other platforms. Playthrough time is 2-4 hours, depending on how good you are at puzzles and if you use the hints.

Eric and I have recently seen two movies that I haven't reviewed. Most recently, we saw this weekend's big movie:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens - Non-spoilers... I liked the new characters and loved the appearance of the original series characters. I have some trouble believing it's been this long, but oh, it felt so good. The plot itself was... how to put this delicately? Um, a little derivative. But also classic with enough twists to work. The balance between drama and humor was lovely, back at the right level. There were so many good little bits of humor mixed in that it worked overall. The big thing, the one that will have many hardcore fans upset, is that this story does not fit at all in the "extended universe" (although it wouldn't surprise me if someone no-prizes it into place). As I'm only mildly invested in the extended universe, it didn't bother me at all, but some fans I'm sure are upset and disappointed due to the canon being broken.

Ok, let's look at some spoilery moments. Gur qrngu... bu, gur qrngu jnf qenzngvp naq cnvashy. Bapr ur jnyxrq bhg bagb gung oevqtr gurer yvgrenyyl jnf ab bgure jnl sbe vg gb raq. V xarj, gunaxf gb nyy gur fcbvyref va gur genvyref, gung gur znfxrq gjvg jnfa'g tbvat gb fhqqrayl ghea tbbq. Naq V pbhyqa'g frr uvz yrggvat Una rfpncr. Fb gung jnf gung. V fnj vg pbzvat naq qvqa'g cerqvpg vg ng nyy. Arkg hc: gur svefg nccrnenapr bs gur Zvyyraavhz Snypba jnf bar bs gubfr terng zbzragf bs uhzbe. Erl naq Svaa unq gur orfg punggre qhevat gung pbairefngvba, ohg jura gurl ghea gb gur "tneontr" naq vg'f bhe byq sevraq, lrnu... purref naq ynhtugre. Nabgure gryyvat zbzrag jnf jura Erl gbhpurq gur yvtugfnore. V guvax gung zrnaf fur'f Yhxr'f qnhtugre... gung'f ubj V "ernq" gur synfuonpxf. Bgure sbyxf zvtug unir bgure bcvavbaf. Ohg sbe gur erfg bs gur svyz V xrcg guvaxvat bs ure nf Una'f avrpr, be znfxrq gjvg'f pbhfva. Gung znqr gur rcvp fnore svtug n onggyr orgjrra pbhfvaf. Fbzr guvatf gung jrer qhzo: jul vf gurer n znc gb jurer Yhxr jnf tbvat? V zrna, frevbhfyl. Naq ubj qvq by' jungfvfsnpr va gur bcravat fprar trg uvf unaqf ba vg? Sbe gung znggre, jul vf vg vzcbegnag sbe znfxrq gjvg naq rzcrebe Tbyyhz gb svaq Yhxr? Ur'f bar thl naq ur'f orra zvffvat n ybat gvzr. Jul abg whfg trg ba jvgu yvirf? Nyfb, gur yvtug fvqr qbrfa'g grzcg, fb znfxrq gjvg vfa'g orvat frqhprq ol gur yvtug... ur'f n crefba jub fgvyy unf n pbafpvrapr naq vf gelvat gb xvyy vg. Nf sbe orvat qrevingvir... jr'ir tbg gur oenir eroryf tbvat hc ntnvafg gur rivy rzcver naq gurve qrngu fgne. Fbeg bs. Gurer jrer n ybg bs zbzragf gung jrer qverpg pnyyonpxf gb gur bevtvany frevrf, vapyhqvat gur jnl Yrvn ernpgrq ng Una'f qrngu orvat gur fnzr nf Bov-Jna'f ernpgvat gb gur qrfgehpgvba bs Nyqrenna. Gung svany fprar, jvgu Erl snpvat Yhxr, jnf nznmvat. Gurer jrer n ybg bs zbzragf yvxr gung guebhtubhg gur zbivr.

In the end, I enjoyed the movie a lot, but still see it has a few flaws. But I'm dying to see the next one.

The other movie we saw thanks to the library happening to have a copy:

Inside Out - A really cute animated movie with a basic enough plot but a nicely unique way of looking at inner turmoil. I loved the voice acting and found it to be a solid little movie that says a lot about how people think and feel. It was a great movie all through, and I enjoyed it a lot... but the absolute funniest moment for me was the looks at other people in the end - particularly the look at the cat. I'm still giggling about the cat every time I think about it. A nice little solid movie for everyone to enjoy.

TV this week:
  • Supergirl: "Human For a Day" - So much good stuff in this one. Xnen trgf gb qrny jvgu orvat uhzna naq zber vzcbegnagyl, orvat uheg, sbe gur svefg gvzr. Jvaa trg wrnybhf. Png trgf n pbzcyvzrag. Znkjryy vf n wrex, ohg n tbbq-urnegrq wrex nccneragyl. Naq jr svanyyl yrnea jung Unax npghnyyl vf qhr gb n ybiryl fvrtr frdhrapr ng gur QRB. Guvf rcvfbqr vf nabgure erzvaqre gung guvf vf ABG gur znva QP Havirefr nf frra va gur pbzvpf. A fun little episode.
  • Supergirl: "Hostile Takeover" - The season finale, juvpu fhecevfvatyl raqf ba n pyvssunatre. Xnen'f srryvatf sbe ure Nhag Nfgen ner gur ubbx guvf fgbel unatf ba, naq vg'f n cerggl tbbq ubbx. Ohg gur ovt fhecevfr sbe zr jnf Png svanyyl znxvat gur shyy pbaarpgvba naq pbasebagvat Xnen. Lrnu, Png vfa'g fghcvq naq vg jbhyq unir orra ernyyl onq gb pbagvahr npgvat yvxr fur jnf. Gur bayl dhrfgvba abj vf jung qverpgvba Png jvyy gnxr jvgu gung xabjyrqtr? This has been a fun show and I'm looking forward to the next season.

  • Arrow: "Brotherhood" - Naq gur cnfg pngpurf hc. Ng yrnfg, bar cnfg. Naq vg'f abg n cyrnfnag rkcrevrapr sbe Qvttyr, bar bs gur orggre punenpgref ba gur fubj. Enl'f qrcerffvba vf fnq va fhpu na bcgvzvfgvp punenpgre, ohg vg'f avpr gb frr uvz jbexvat ba n ceboyrz. Naq Gurn unf n cbffvoyr fbyhgvba gb ure ceboyrz. Bayl, ubj vf fur tbvat gb trg Qneux gb pbbcrengr? Another good episode on lots of levels.
  • Arrow: "Legends of Yesterday" - Gur snpg gung rirelbar qvrf va n tehrfbzr synfu bs sver naq qrngu va guvf rcvfbqr qvqa'g qrgenpg sebz ubj tbbq vg jnf va gur raq. Lrf, gvzr geniry, gung qnatrebhf gbl, vf hfrq... ohg jr xarj sebz gur ortvaavat gung vg jnf pbzvat. Naq gung zrnaf jr xarj nalguvat ng nyy pbhyq unccra va gur bcravat npg. Naq obl, nalguvat ng nyy fher unccrarq. Gur pybfvat unys jnf avpryl qbar, jvgu Oneel gnxvat gur guernqf bs gebhoyr sebz gur svefg gvzr guebhtu naq svkvat ybgf bs gurz. I enjoyed this one.
  • Arrow: "Dark Waters" - Bu, sbe gung gb unir orra gur raq bs Qneux! Ohg lbh xabj gur ivyynva nyjnlf svaqf n jnl gb rfpncr, rira jvgu gjb neebjf va uvz naq n obzo tbvat bss arkg gb uvf urnq. Guvf rcvfbqr ernyyl uvg zr uneq, cnegvphyneyl gur thafuvc qebar ng gur ornpu. Gur fubpx bs frrvat xvqf, vapyhqvat n irel phgr "zvav-Sryvpvgl" nggnpxrq fb ivbyragyl npghnyyl znqr zr jnag gb fgbc jngpuvat sbe n ovg. Sbe fbzr ernfba, gung fprar jnf nyzbfg bire gur rqtr sbe zr. Gur cbvfba tnf jnf nyfb nyzbfg gbb zhpu. In fact, there were a lot of bits and pieces in this that really shocked me. A difficult episode to watch.

  • The Flash: "Gorilla Warfare" - Cbbe Tebqq. Guvf irefvba qvqa'g qrfreir uvf sngr naq qrsvavgryl qvqa'g qrfreir gb or fghpx hc nybar va gur jngpugbjre jbaqrevat jung gb qb jvgu uvzfrys. V'z unccl gurl tbg uvz gb Rnegu-2 Tbevyyn Pvgl, ohg V'z n yvggyr jbeevrq ng jung ur jvyy qb gurer. Fgvyy, guvf vfa'g gur znva QPH... znlor vg'yy ghea bhg bx? Decent little episode with the potential to come back and bite the heroes in the future.
  • The Flash: "Legends of Today" - Gur fcrrq sbezhyn... na nznmvat pnyyonpx gb gur Tbyqra Ntr, rira vs vg'f abg fbzrguvat fnvq (juvpu arire znqr n yvpx bs frafr) naq vafgrnq vf n frehz. Wnl vf fgvyy orvat n wrex. Gura jr'ir tbg Grnz Neebj naq Grnz Synfu gelvat gb cebgrpg Pvfpb'f tvey sebz Inaqny Fnintr. Awesome on just so many levels. A fun episode.
  • The Flash: "Running to Stand Still" - Znex Unzvyy nf Fnagn Pynhf vf bar bs gur sernxvrfg guvatf V'ir frra guvf lrne. Naq vg'f orra n sernxl lrne. Guvf jnf n qrprag rcvfbqr jvgu onq thlf pbzovavat gb xvyy Gur Synfu. Gura gurer'f n pbhcyr bs tbbq fhocybgf nf jryy... Jnyyl Jrfg orvat gur bar gung xvaq bs pyvss-unatf. Ohg Uneel'f nterrzrag jvgu Mbbz vf gur fpnel bar. Vs guvf Uneevfba Jryyf vf n tbbq thl, ur'f tbg gb or senagvpnyyl guvaxvat bs jnlf gb znxr Oneel tbbq rabhtu gb erfphr uvf qnhtugre. Vg'f abg tbvat gb or rnfl. Lots to think about with this one.

Here are reviews of the DCBS comic books that I've gotten around to reading and reviewing, sorted by the original shipping date:
  • Oct 7th
  • Batman Beyond #5 - Freaky story. Seems to me the fight against Brother Eye would be over quickly in Gotham, so I'm not sure how much time Batman has to put whatever plan he's got into action.
  • Green Lantern #45 - Um, yay Hal? Really, there just isn't much to say about this.
  • Doctor Strange #1 - It certainly lives up to the "strange" in the title. The one thing for sure I can say about this book is that it really doesn't make being a magic user appealing at all.
  • This Damned Band #3 - Set in a French mansion/recording studio, this issue has the band confronting some of their demons. Sort of. Maybe? Well, probably not, because things just get worse. I love the comments from the camera crew.
  • CBLDF Liberty Annual 2015 - If you are easily offended, this is not something you want to try to read. I'm no longer easily offended, but there were some pieces in here that I felt went over the line from "making a point" to "tasteless for the heck of it." Which I guess is also a point to make. I did like it overall: the key to proper censorship is for the reader to say, "Oh, I don't like this," and skip to the next item rather than attempt to shut up the original creator/publisher. And I'm capable of jumping to the next item when I'm offended.
  • Legend of Oz: The Wicked West #1 - I don't know if this is the same as the original series' first issue, but it certainly is very familiar. I enjoyed this the first time around, I hope to enjoy it this time, too. I think there's an extra supplemental tale in here, as well.
  • Grimm Fairy Tales: Oz: Reign of the Witch Queen #5 - There are moments I really like this book (although the clothing design for the women is often a major turn-off) and there are moments I just go, "huh?" I admit, the huh moments are more common than the enjoyable moments. But there's a good moment in this one for me, as Dorothy embraces the bad and something good happens.
  • Oct 14th
  • Justice League of America #4 - A single panel of Aquaman, four lines between him and Mera. Blah. The story itself isn't too bad, with the mystery of what Rao actually is coming to a head. But I need more Aquaman to be happy.
  • Justice League United #14 - Caught in an eddy of time, they are stuck in a moment or two. Lots of great characters showing up, but the plot is a bit overwhelmed by it all! I think once it ends I'll try to sort out what happened.
  • Earth 2 Society #5 - Jay is overwhelmed by being what he is, and quits? That's a choice for a superhero? Apparently not, as he gets dragged back into it. The identity of the villain was slightly unexpected, but I guess I buy it, considering the nature of the character in this universe.
  • DC Comics Bombshells #3 - Yay! More Mera! Ahem. This one has three distinct chapters, starting with the Bat, moving to the terror in Germany, then going to Wonder Woman and Mera meeting the war on land. I love this version of Mera, teasing Wonder Woman and protecting her dolphin friends. Great stuff.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #1 - A very strange first issue with a new status quo. It seems a little nasty that he's using his abilities to win a game show. I'm sure this won't turn out well.
  • Star Trek/Green Lantern #4 - I was just sort of nodding along, slightly amused by this book, until the final page. I'm glad I'm familiar enough with the "new" Star Trek universe to know what that cliffhanger actually means.
  • Spongebob Comics #49 - This had a few odd bits even for this comic. As the Halloween issue, it was focused on the scary... as scary as Spongebob gets, which isn't very. Still, fun enough. I am amused and unsurprised by the fate of the various delivery boys. Ha.
  • Rebels #7 - A nice standalone issue featuring a woman who followed her husband into the Revolutionary War and what became of her later in life. The statement by the soldier as he left, that they couldn't make an exception, was definitely a comment on how women who fought were treated.
  • Oct 21st
  • Justice League #45 - I'm hoping this crossover ends soon, because I'm finding it completely boring. I'm glad Aquaman isn't involved in this snooze-fest.
  • Green Lantern: The Lost Army #5 - More of Lanterns in space. Prison break, new weapons... ongoing war. What next?
  • Titans Hunt #1 - So, are they remembering the original universe or something else? That's clearly Garth, so what's his deal in this universe?
  • Teen Titans Go #12 - Starfire wants to date, and Robin is jealous. Then anti-Titans run into Titans and there are some issues. A silly book, but cute.
  • Astro City #28 - The origin story of Wolfspider along with a more modern tale related to his past makes for excellent reading. As usual, one of the best of the super-hero books out there.
  • Tales of Honor: Bred to Kill #3 - Pretty good! More twists in the story and more developments. And we catch up to the opening, as well, so by the end we are moving into unexplored territory. Great stuff. This series is so much better than the first attempt it's not even funny. This is what happens when you allow your writers to actually write comics instead of illustrated text.
  • Usagi Yojimbo #149 - A very nice done-in-one story that had an utterly predictable ending. I found the premise all too believable... rich jerk spends too much on a worthless item. I thought Usagi's solution was perfect, if a tiny bit deceptive.
  • Back to the Future #1 - How did Marty meet Doc in the first place? The first story in this issue tells the tale, which is just as backwards as you might expect. The second story goes back to Doc's youth as a professor, and is cringe-worthy.
  • Doctor Who 9th #4 - Time agents? Much like Captain Jack is supposed to be? Interesting how they force the Doctor to do their work. What are they really up to? And what's up with Rose? What has she learned?
  • Doctor Who 10th Year Two #2 - This is a story that really needs some sound to bring out the best. I would love to hear this one as an audio drama. The solution was simple, but cool.
  • Doctor Who 11th Year Two #1 - Wow, this is a mess of a plot. Oh, it makes sense in context, but there's so much happening and so many strange bits... and that cliffhanger. Not a character I was expecting to see in this particular version, although I admit I'm kind of pleased to see him. There's a lot here to digest, and I'm guessing the next issue isn't going to be any easier.
  • Doctor Who 12th #13 - Hyperions invading Earth, and doing an all-too-good job of it. We get a nice origin story for the creatures, including the fact that they were originally a force for good. The next question is what the Doctor is going to do about it... his initial attempt seems a little misguided.
  • Oct 28th
  • Aquaman #45 - I still haven't quite figured out what is going on, but now it apparently involves other worlds. I liked this one better than the last couple of issues, but the art still looks wrong to me.
  • Batman '66 #28 - Scarecrow and Killer Croc. A fun issue with classic villains reimagined for the 1966 universe. Very nice.
  • Sinestro #16 - Oooh, Sinestro goes on a quest and visits Evil Shazam. I find Soranik's "crush" on Black Adam to be quite cute. I guess she does like bad boys.
  • Spider-Man 2099 #2 - Back in the saddle again after a terrorist attack. I'm not sure I like that he decided to quit in the first place, but I know I don't like how he's been brought back.