Saturday, 31 January 2015

The Silmarillion

Well, I did the Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings (which I will re-read), but inbetween I read The Silmarillion. Well, I say read. I meant listened to.

So the bulk of the story is about the creation of Middle Earth, setting up the initial races and powers, and culminating in the creation and the story of the Silmarillion, gems what were made by the Elves. And many tales are told along the way. Many tales, with many names. Yeah, I'm going to complain about the names. This wasn't a final draft, and I wonder how much JRR intended to expand on entries and not just have lists? Because the lists don't come across well at all, it's when there's a fuller story that we get engaged.

And then, at the end, a few other stories, including a minor tale involving Sauron and the Istar. When we learnt that Peter Jackson incorporated The Silmarillion into The Hobbit, I was expecting there to be more than around 5% of the book! But we did get the scenes put into the movie and more. No wonder he got three movies out of it.

Still, there's plenty of material here for a Silmarillion trilogy... but we're not expecting that any time soon. And the beginning is very biblical anyway, so there'll be that overtones. Then it gets rather fractured, with lots of different narratives... which would be suitable for a Silmarillion mini-series? Either way, Jackson is unlikely to be involved any time soon.

Interesting material, but I do wonder what a finalised version would have been like?


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Friday, 30 January 2015


One of the many movies that came out in a splurt based on a TV series.

The Jupiter 2 (launched inside the Jupiter 1) is heading for Alpha Prime to set up a HyperGate to allow travel to and from Earth. However, bad guys get Dr Smith to sabotage the systems, and so they need to randomly jump around to avoid the sun and then they get... title drop! And beyond being lost in space, they kick it up a notch by being lost in time as well, with random time travel elements for no readily good reason. And spiders. Which also don't really have much to do with the plot about how John Robinson is a bad father. Also featuring a kid we don't care about who is replaced with an adult we don't care about.

Yeah, this is a mess of a plot. This doesn't have anything to add to the 'father doesn't get on with son' trope. There was a subplot with the women, but that got cut for time, despite sounding more interesting. Also more interesting is what the writer had in mind for the sequel... but I can't say I'm shocked it never happened.

Okay, at the time, I liked this. I even have the soundtrack CD somewhere. Some decent thumping tunes. The acting isn't that great, outside of Gary Oldman, but I had lower thresholds when this came out. Although I will point out this was doing the slow motion pan around characters before The Matrix did it!

When I watched this the other day, what I got from it was a better idea about how to use time travel portals... so there's that.


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Thursday, 29 January 2015

Very Near Mint

It's another set of comics that I Kickstartered! Mainly because I could get the whole collection at once. I'm more inclined to back for that.

The story starts in a comic store, making me feel reminiscent of Clerks, only in a comics store. But then there's a rival comic store opening across the street, and it all goes crazy from then! There's a long backstory as to why the other comic store opened, and how it relates back to them, and how the phrase 'Very Near Mint' ties into it all... but I won't give it away, because you can read it for yourself.

This is mainly black and white, with a nice art design. Some of the speech bubbles were hard to follow (being 'cute' with layout is no excuse for making narrative hard to follow), but otherwise fine.

This is a large story spread over three volumes. It's an easy read, and no doubt you can get it from their website.


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Wednesday, 28 January 2015


Yeah, let's talk about this great movie! As is Peter! As is Al! As is GuanoLad! And listen to the Digital Gonzo podcast for an indepth discussion.

Everyone knows the story, so I'm not going to talk about it too much. If you don't know it... go watch this movie! It's great! I watched a BluRay version of the movie, and saw lots of things in high definition... which they didn't probably want me to see. But while a lot of people can cite random bits and jokes from the movie, it is good to see the original again, with the actors' expressions, and full comic timing. Classic stuff. And not great animation effects, let's be honest. The dogs really don't work well, and Stay Puft gets transparent at times... but hey, it's all good.

I saw this when I was young... must have been around 10? I do know that that night I didn't like that I had my wardrobe so close. It was already not zero on the creepy factor, and the idea of a large dog hiding inside it didn't help at all.

But now, I went for the BluRay version, optimised for 4K TVs... I don't have a 4K TV, so had to go for the standard image. But one thing I was very disappointed about was that there was nothing else on the disc! No trailer, no Ray Parker Jr video, no commentary, nothing! The DVD was better in that respect. Was so much of the disc taken up with the large format that nothing else was available? For shame.

Anyway, this is a classic movie. The second one... I did like, but it didn't rate as high, but that's a story for another day.


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Tuesday, 27 January 2015

The Room Two

I played The Room, and said I would play the sequel... which took me a few days, but I did!

This continues on from where the first left off. We are trapped, but now we have some puzzles to solve to get us out. It seems to involve us jumping around in time? Maybe? Or space? Or distorted dimensions? Or something. And then the ending happens, which I summarise with "pardonfuck?!"

The puzzles are more of the same (although there no instances of where you need to physically tilt the tablet). There were one or two that were not at all obvious, but for the most put it was clearer what to do than in One. There was more disconnect with the groups of puzzles too, just jumping around with no real overarching connective story. Oh... and it went for a little too long. They could have cut one or two of the rooms out without taking away from the adventure. (Although I am now levelled up to level 11 on Google...)

Still, a fun experience, and definitely one to go for if you like your interactive puzzle games. There may be a Three some time?


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Monday, 26 January 2015

Welcome to The Rock

Yes, it's a Michael Bay movie from 1996... but I like it! It's a fun action piece that has many of his traits.

Because of military cover ups, Ed Harris (I don't remember character names, but it doesn't really matter) takes over The Rock, making Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage, with a team of Navy Seals, to infiltrate the island. Which then goes immediately wrong, but that's okay, because Sean and Nicholas are all you need to get a hold of 15 missiles, and defeat a squadron of armed and pissed off mercenaries.

There are a lot of set pieces, which is Bay's thing, It's flashy, it doesn't stand up to scrutiny... but, as I said, it's fun. And the soundtrack... oh there are some great pieces in this.

Lots of wonderful posturing from the actors in this too. Ed Harris doesn't get enough praise for this, and he and David Morse have a wonderful dynamic together of men who've seen too much battle, but refrain from being complete monsters.

This is very watchable, and very enjoyable.


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Sunday, 25 January 2015


This is a story of a Hasidic girl who got out from under a repressive Jewish society.

Although that's not quite the right word. By 'story', I mean 'true tale of a woman telling what happened to her', being Deborah Feldman in particular. She tells of growing up in a very orthodox rabbinical society, and there's a lot she talks about that I'm going 'argh, can't you people see how controlling that is?'... except I know they don't see that. This is the culture they grew up in, this is what they know. For Deborah, it was too much, and it was a struggle to survive in it in many ways, and we read of what she had to do to get out. It ain't easy.

What she doesn't say is that could easily be translated to other tightly controlled ideological communities. Not just religion, but ideology in general. And that it's hard to see you are in one when you are in one. Right now, we might be in just another system keeping us under control, but it's what we know. The rules seem reasonable, but there could be better ones?

Anyway, give this a read. She was one of the first Hasidic women to speak out, although she won't be the last.


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Saturday, 24 January 2015

Onti the Wiids

Yeah, I went to see a Disney musical. A movie that's based on a stage play. Go new IP! I mean that... go and get some new IP!

There is a young maiden who is working for her stepmother and stepsisters... there's a young lad with his mother and a cow that won't give milk so must be sold... there's a baker and his wife who are childless that deal with a witch... and everything has a happy ending, because it's a fairy tale? Or is it? Events have consequences and a happy ending is only a moment...

So yeah, there's more to this than just the fairy tales we know. Although there is that too. But I've probably given too much away, except to say I'd do a whole story crossing stories over, not just interacting.

But... this movie felt too long. A lot of the singing was just singing the lines, not actual songs, and that didn't work too well for me, it felt like they were trying too hard to make it musical. The songs didn't really feel like they fit into the narrative too readily either. (And this is me basically accusing Stephen Sondheim, who did the music for a lot of I'm Breathless!)

On the acting side, some good performances, but I kept seeing James Corden as the chap who couldn't handle the Cybermen. And I couldn't remember Meryl Streep's name, so that bugged me every time she was on screen. Chris Pine and Billy Magnussen have a great duet together (I wish (sic) more of the tune were like that). And I didn't know Tracey Ullman was still acting. And there's the cameo of Johnny Depp...

It could have been tighter and darker, but it was decent enough.


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Friday, 23 January 2015

Throne of Justice

It's another Justice League animated movie. Still using New 52 ideas. In fact, it even refers back to War.

This is basically Arthur's origin story. He's just a guy in a lighthouse. His father just died, and now strange creatures are turning up to kill him. You know, an average story. And the other super powers are just hanging out, not really a league yet either. But as Atlantis starts to wage war on the surface world, both parties are drawn in and then it's all about Atlantis coming for you... when by "then", I mean over half way through the movie. The first 45 minutes are essentially exposition, leaving an action filled 30 minutes. I hope the original comic wasn't as unbalanced as that.

Pacing issues aside, this is a decent story. We get the crew back together to provide voices (it's odd seeing Green Lantern listed above Superman, but Nathan Fillion is a bigger name than Jerry O'Connell). The animation and everything else follows the style of War... is this DC Animated trying to make their own series of movies with continuity? They don't really come out often enough, or with enough of a splash to pull that off.

I can't say I'm jumping into New 52 (especially when it's likely to be changed again!), but it's good to see it supported with decent animation.


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Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Room

The Room was recommended to me (as part of the general audience) heavily... so I finally gave it a try.

No, not the movie, the game! (Which has nothing to do with the movie.)

This is a puzzle game. You are presented with a large table/safe thing, and you move it around and solve various puzzles. While I would like to say I solved them without needing help, I at least had to use the in-game help a few times. But that was as far as it went. Some puzzles where harder than others, but most were straight forward, just fiddly.

One type of puzzle in particular completely caught me out. You won't see this game on Steam any time soon, and (as you'll see from the link) I got it on my Android tablet... because for some puzzles, it uses the orientation of the tablet itself, and you tilt it back and forth to move some pieces around. Not often, but I wasn't expecting it. (Okay, you could easily replace them with 'move around with the mouse', but it wouldn't be as fun.) Because a large component of this, as they say, is the tactile sense. You move the switches, you rotate the pieces, you put your fingers all over the screen (hopefully you have a protector!) and push things around! It's neat!

And the story is interesting too. We have the four elements, but what of the fifth? This is the story of that element. (Although you can ignore it if you really want to.)

I liked it... and onto The Room 2!


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Wednesday, 21 January 2015

My 'McDonalds' Job

I refer to a 'McDonalds' job as the one you get in your late teens, that pays minimum wage, and the sort of thing that wears you down immediately. Usually in the fast food industry, but not exclusively.

For example, my job was at The Warehouse, down in Lower Hutt. (It's no longer there now.) I was there just when initial construction was finished, and they were getting ready to open. I helped to load things onto shelves! Ooh, the excitement! Yeah, I'm not one for lifting heavy things, so that was fun.

And then the store opened, and my hours changed. I still stocked shelves, but my hours were... midnight to 8.30am. Not a rotating shift or anything, just early am hours each week. It completely did my head in.

(And this was I at school, so I had to take a few days off for exams.)

I was employed around October, I think? And went through to just after Christmas. My friend joined in the last few weeks, and we probably spent a bit too much time talking to each other. They viewed me as barely competent, and I reflected those views. So then they let me go.

Still... it was a job, and I would go on to many better things... like being a secretary! But that's another story for another day....


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Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Big Stall

Another Kickstarter I only got around to read is The Big Stall, part of Arsenic Lullaby.

This is only 60 odd pages, but the key point is that they are very odd pages. The humour is very dark, and twisted... and I like that! See what lengths Cthulhu will go to, what happens outside an abortion clinic, the story of Baron Von Donut.... yeah, it's weird, but it is good.

And he (the writer Douglas Paszkiewicz) also thinks about flow across the comic page. At the end of the volume, he shows how panels are set up so that characters lead the eye from one panel to the next, from one line to the next. It's an interesting point I never considered before.

Check out the site and you can pick up comics from the store.


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Monday, 19 January 2015

Pete and Dud

One of the earlier comic duos were Pete and Dud... Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. Peter Cook's dry wit just slays and Dudley Moore can hardly keep up. I wonder how often Peter just goes off on his own monologue, only barely paying attention to the script, while Dudley tries to keep up. Check out their sketch show Not Only... But Also

Plenty of clips on youtube, and their Gallery sketch is a classic:

One of the best bits is watching Dudley trying to keep a straight face while Peter goes on, having at some points to cram a sandwich in his mouth to stop himself cracking up.


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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Diesel Sweeties

I've been backing a fair few comic kickstarters. Give me a load of comics, on pdf, fairly reasonably priced, and sure, I'll back it. (Okay, I have to like the art style too.) But one I did a while ago was Diesel Sweeties. 3,000 comics! (Mostly one pagers.)

This one is about a group of people, supposedly friends, who get on each others nerves. I know, original, right? Except two things: there's a lot of sex. Like, a lot. Characters are having sex all the time. The other thing, and also often, is that a lot of the male characters are robots. Like, full on boxy robots, of whom some hate humans. Oh, and there's cats, because internet.... and one of the characters (one of the women) was a porn star, ... because interenet?

Anyway, good read, and plenty of it. A bit too much unmotivated sex scenes, but this is one of the few non-Japanese comics around with sex scenes in it, so it has that. I have no idea if they'll be sold in a bunch again (I got mine on a Red Robot USB stick!), otherwise you can just read them on the site.


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Saturday, 17 January 2015

Doctor Who vs The Philosophy

Many series have spawned books that look at the philosophy presented and inspired by the series... so, of course, Doctor Who has one as well.

Most of the chapters follow the same format: Introduce some philosophical point that is up for discussion. Give some examples from Doctor Who. Then fail to conclude anything meaningful and leave it there.

Not exactly a great teaching work then.

The one chapter I liked was Chapter 20: And, Before I Go... which looked into the idea of regeneration and what does it mean for identity. (Although quite a few chapters do that.) This actually comes to a point, although it does seem that philosophy is about making pedantic points about semantic differences between 'individual' and 'person' and 'personality' and 'body' and... Yeah, no.

Although this covers the entire series from the very start up to around Series 6, it was often easy to tell which Doctor the particular author favoured, with mainly exampled from Tom Baker's Doctor, or David Tennant, or...

This analysis fits into a wider problem I have in that, this is a TV show. It's all very well using these as examples and hypotheticals and thinking 'what does this mean?', but since it doesn't happen in reality, it isn't much more than navel gazing. There can be some interesting problems in philosophy, but this book doesn't give the best argument for that.


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Friday, 16 January 2015

Girl Goneburgers

It's a David Fincher film, therefore it has to be good? Right? Unfortunately, I went into this knowing the big twist, so that didn't get me at all, but I could watch the movie unfold knowing that was coming.

Nick comes home to find his wife, Amy, missing. Presumed kidnapped. But then clues get uncovered that indicate that there might be more at stake, something fatal. And who's always the first suspect? The husband. No, really. The first suspect is the husband or the wife or some close family member. That's far more likely than some random stranger. Only in this case, it's more than that.

My main problem with this movie is that it's two and a half hours... and it feels like it. Surely you could cut it down, take an hour out, and still get the same point? Did Gillian Flynn really need all that time? I can't say I want to read the book now.

So... yeah... been lots of plaudits for this, and that, but... no, not for me.


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Thursday, 15 January 2015

Going Hard on Tomb Raider

Yes, it's another Tomb Raider post! What can I say? I like the game! It's fun to play, and satisfies any 'third-person shooter with minor puzzles' urge I have. But this time I played it through on Hard mode. Because why not?

At times I had to remember that I was on Hard mode, because it felt a lot like the normal game I remembered. I still died often (but I did that in the normal game), but that didn't bug me. What did bug me was the loading times. I was happy to retry, but not happy to wait for the chance to do so. Get on with it! (This is probably partly because I don't have a 'gaming rig', just a normal years old pc.)

By the end, I had all the skills mastered, but not all the weapons upgraded. I wonder if the cost of upgrades changes depending on mode? I was worried about running out of ammo, but that only happened a few times. One particularly nasty fight I took more cautiously than usual, and hardly died at all!

So, that's three times... I can see me still going back for another run, but I will try to move onto something else.


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Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The Imation Game

No, I didn't go see this because of Benedict Cumberbatch, but because this was about Alan Turing. And, knowing movies, I wanted to see if they could squeeze in a love story with a woman.

This takes place over three times. In 1951, when Alan Turing was robbed, and found out. In 19... can't remember, when he was a boy, in first blush of love. But mainly during World War 2 in which he did most of the work we know him for in breaking the Enimga machine. Which was both harder and easier than the movie shows, but movies must be made. And, yes, there is a female love interest of a sort (a platonic love in this case). And it shows off how well we treat our war heroes.

This hit most of the beats I knew of. And the movie treated his homosexuality well, if rather harshly by today's standards. We get good acting all around, including from Mr Cumberbatch, and some neat looking sets. Including a rather more extreme version of the machine Turing built, if they could have put in a machine that went ping I'm sure they would have.

As a docudrama, probably more drama than docu, but still a good watch.


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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Mirror Mysteries 2

I played through Mirror Mysteries before, so was ready for MM2.

The kid, Tommy, from the last game came back, found the mirror, and got trapped. So enter us to delve into the various mirror worlds to fix them and sort everything out. This felt shorter than the previous game, only three worlds, and just a few rooms in each world. And it also felt simpler. Did they just knock this out to meet some requirement, or thinking this would hit big because this was a sequel? Certainly, there's no third game.

One thing that is different from normal hidden object games is that instead of a list, we see the images of the objects. And they are components of an item, so although there is a lot of general hidden object items on the screen, we only want particular items. Ignore the cats and vases and oddly placed knives, etc. This can still be just as annoying (one item I sure I clicked on turned out to be what I wanted, the one time I had to use a hint...) as looking for general objects, so that still fits.

There are also puzzles, however they aren't particularly difficult and could be brute forced if needed (make sure you know the astrological signs of the zodiac!).

A nice quick game, with the emphasis on quick.


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Monday, 12 January 2015

The 0 Theorem

Hey, it's Terry Gilliam! It's bound to be good! Although going into this I wasn't sure what to expect.

So an insular computer programmer (what other kind is there?) gets permission to work at home, as long as he works on proving the Zero Theorem... which is about proving everything is nothing. However, he gets distracted by a wacky band of characters who bring him out of his shell and totally ruin any sense of productivity he has. Then, because everyone is probably already thinking of Brazil anyway, everything goes weird at the end.

On the performance from we have Christoph Waltz, Melanie Thierry, David Tweliss... and Matt Damon and Tilda Swinton pop by. However, outclassing all the peoples, are the sets. Big expansive sets, and large pieces of technology that looks more intent of being impressive to look at than practical. And the effects... coding is like playing a computer game now? Only badly? And with a too bulky joypad? Well, it's pretty.

I can't say I got as much out of this as I might hope for, but I have seen it now.


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Sunday, 11 January 2015

The =-iser

I haven't seen the original series, so this, in many ways, fits the standard format of "man with action past has a quite life until his skills are needed again" mould. In that regards, this isn't an original movie.

In this case, the tipping point is a prostitute that McCall knows(-ish). She gets beaten up, so he takes revenge. Then revenges other minor things he comes across. In the mean time, the pimps were actually Russian crime connected, so they get involved, and slowly the two forces come up against each other.

One issue with this movie is that McCall is presented as a stone cold bad-ass, with no emotional restraint or compulsion not to kill those he goes up against. And so... there's no doubt at all that he will win. With other action pieces, there's usually something to show the leading man is vulnerable, and usually a scene where he gets beaten up, but not really here. He's in control all the time, so there's no tension.

Acting-wise, Denzel Washington is good, and I also like Marton Csokas as the bad guy stone hard-arse. They are basically the same character with slightly different takes on whose side they are on, and both work well on screen. And we also get surprise Bill Pullman!

Decent movie, but not outstanding.


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Saturday, 10 January 2015

Stoneblah Asynumb

This sounds like it had promise. Kate Beckinsale, Jim Sturgess, David Thewlis, Brendon Gleeson, Ben Kingsley and Michael Caine. Sounds like...

A new doctor arrives at an asylum (at the end of 1899), and find there are rather unusual treatments being run. Almost like the people in charge don't really have properly medical qualifications. Still, a lot of their treatments are better than the standard ones of the time, so they've got that going for them. The main part of the plot is revealed after half an hour, and movie summaries basically give it away, so what we have here is a patients running asylum premise.

Which sounds good as a premise. Indeed, Edgar Allen Poe wrote a short story based on the idea, which is the basis for this movie. However, that was a short story, not nearly two hours. The main thread that gets added is, of course, a love story. Because every film needs to have that. But what mainly is added is padding. This movie just drags on far too long, cut about an hour out it will be better.

As I point out, lots of big names in this... and yet, I can't say I heard of this movie before seeing it on the recent dvd releases. I thought it was just another low budget movie. Nope, it's big. I somehow doubt they got their budget back.

Yeah, skip this. The calibre of stars isn't enough to overcome the story.


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Friday, 9 January 2015


And that wraps it up. Eh... story wise, it was kind of obvious what was going to happen (with one surprising bit with Edna), and it ends on a sort of cliffhanger... and we get Michael J Fox giving us some voices in this episode!

However, I do have to complain about some time shenanigans. Citizen Brown should have gone a long time earlier. And neither of them should have been around to go into the past. (Not to mention Edna should have self-erased in a huge paradox.) But, time travel, eh?

Now, going forwards... play another game? Go back and watch the movies? I do sort of want to, but I'm not sure, I have seen them many times already.

I know, I'll just sit here and wait for season two... I'm sure it'll be here any day now...


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Thursday, 8 January 2015

Double Visions

Okay, episode 4 and... it feels a lot of episode 3. There is a set of puzzles you have to do that feels exactly like the set of puzzles we just did! And story wise... actually, there's only one goal for this episode, and it happens, and it feels like a big set up for the final episode. (Although it doesn't feel like the final episode will be all that big at the moment.)

So far, the meaning of the titles has been fairly obvious... but I'm not sure what this one is all about. That said, I did have vision problems. The video had been playing a little before, but this time it got extreme. So much so, I had to reset my computer more than once because the video driver kept crashing and not quite recovering. This was right near the end of the game, but it is a lot easier to complete puzzles when you can see the screen properly.

So yeah... you do a few things in this episode (one puzzle is rather tediously long to get through), but I wonder if it could have been edited now / removed?


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Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Citizen Brown

Episode three and what have we here? Okay, this is going to get rather difficult because I don't want to give away all the spoilers. What I will say is that we have a changed present, with Brown having a rather interesting role in it. Christopher Lloyd provides the voice for his own character, and I would love to see him actual act this storyline out. It would be quite interesting.

The puzzles are a strange mix of easy and hard. In many cases, it is clear what the overall goal is, but it often isn't clear what exactly I have to do to get there. Most times, it's only really randomness that ultimately reveals the solution. That's not great. And the camera is getting worse.

Still, the writers are clearly doing something different with this, and it's working. Broadly. Next time it looks like we are going back in time again, and I could do with a little more variant...


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Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Get Tannen

We are going back to the future, which involves going back to the past, because that's the way this series works.

We get back to the present to find out a few things are wrong, so need to go back in time again to sort them out. Which means a little reusing of sets (in so far as that counts in a computer game) and visiting new ones, as well as revisiting characters old and new. All that in a 2 1/2 hour video game! Only one puzzle had me stumped, and I never would have come up with the solution unless I resorted on clicking every object on every person style of game play. And again not really QTE fights, although there was one fight. Most of the time, including then, it was fairly clear what was intended.

But one thing that is bad about this game is the camera. It's a fixed camera perspective, and the controls can get very wonky when the angles change. I can be pushing up, but when the camera changes, I'm now moving left, even though I'm still pushing up, and some times changing to pushing left will work and some times not... that's not good. (And when they say use the right mouse button to run, they are lying. Use shift instead. Oh, and guess at the controls, because there's no control screen, let alone rebindable keys.)

Still, I still enjoyed it, and it's a great set up for episode 3.


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Monday, 5 January 2015

It's About Time

No, this isn't about Doctor Who, but another time travelling franchise: Back to the Future! In particular, the Telltale Game thereof. This is certainly before their current heyday... and it shows. This is episode one of five.

This is set after the movies, with Marty moping around because his friend has gone. And then the Delorean turns up, so engage the time hijinks! This time, it's back into history of the year 1931, and we find out that Doc's in trouble. Because that never happens. And, of course, Marty's own family are involved, as well as Tannen (so get ready for poop jokes!).

Gameplay wise... this isn't a patch on what happens in their other games. It is pretty much just choose a moment of dialogue, then go to next bit. There's no QTE segments per se (there was one, which I completely goofed on until I saw the hint of what I was supposed to be doing), and certainly no failure states. Speaking of the hint system... that was really annoying when I had that on. Just on the lowest setting, but it constantly had a box in the upper corner saying "have you done this yet?" Got rid of that pretty quickly.

Still, I did enjoy it, and there's still four more episodes to go!


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Sunday, 4 January 2015

Haunted Houdini

Yep, that's right... we're dealing with Arthur Conan Doyle and his association in a secret order to have Houdini killed.

Or something like that. Despite that Houdini proved that mediums were fake, this game is well in the realm of the supernatural (because, hey, video games and they can do what they want), so of course magic and the supernatural is real. (There are a few "magic tricks", which are only amazing in that you don't spend a long time working out the maths of it, but maths is what is behind it all.) And there's a secret society behind his death, and it's up to you to find out what's going on.

This is like the better version that episode three was. Actually... to be honest... I did find the story interesting (given it was dumping all over Houdini's reality) that I was getting annoyed with the few hidden object scenes came up. Hey, can we get past that and back to the story? Still, complete it I did... on casual. This is the first time I've had the choice of what level to play at. Casual was fine with me. I want to relax with this game, not stress out. Good enough.

So that's it. Overall... not a brilliant series of hidden object games as hidden object games, but not terrible either. Skip the second one, and you'll be fine.


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Saturday, 3 January 2015

Devil on the Mississippi

Another Midnight Mystery, and this time... it's not incredibly obvious who is involved. As it happens, we're digging into the ghost of Samuel Clemens and family.

Although we start with Mark Twain, we quickly slip sideways into William Shakespeare, and who really wrote the plays. Because when Mark Twain got into it, he unleased the devil in Shakespeare's time?? Yeah, that happened. The story in this things get rather weird, and I don't always follow it, but it's all rather linear and doesn't matter too much.

Gameplaywise... this is a lot better over the previous one. It's still more smaller puzzles than hidden objects, but there are more hidden objects this time. And the puzzles make a lot more sense, and it was far easier to work out where to go. And what to combine. It's still annoying how you have to do it, but it doesn't feel as random.

And there are still achievements, of which I got some. Not the ones around never using hints, because that ain't happening. And I didn't get the 70 clovers I needed (and it seems there are 100?). Although I did get all 80 bones. Quite nicely the game has a strategy guide built in so you never get too stuck about what some puzzle wants or something you might miss.

One more to go. It could still be improved, but I'll take the 3rd gameplay again over the 2nd.


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Friday, 2 January 2015

Salem Witch Trials

This is the second Midnight Mystery, and it is about... you might guess... the Salem Witch Trials, so you know there's going to be someone innocent being accused.

Once again a ghost comes to you and you are pulled into history, of Salem. This chap's family was nasty to witches, so it's up to you to find out the truth. Which, you would think, would involve you finding hidden objects...

But no! Last time, they had hardly any non-hidden object puzzles. Now there are hardly any! Mostly it's go to random room, click on one or two items you are guided to, then on to somewhere else. Oh, and there is item mixing. Extremely obtuse and annoying item mixing. Instead of clicking and dragging and dropping, you need to put one item in the first special mixing box, then put the second item in the second box, then mix them. What? That's really annoying! Not to mention... who would think of combining a broom and a frying pan to make a paddle? Yes, I looked things up online because it wasn't at all clear what I was supposed to be doing!

Even the hidden object themselves weren't much better. There are only ever 12 slots (although some slots may be multiple versions). And boy howdy are they hidden. I often used the lantern (show the silhouette) feature, but only once had to use a full hint... and that was because I had clicked on the item, but not in the right pixel it seemed. Which all meant I couldn't get particular achievements.

Yes, there are achievements which, due to patching, do not register with Steam. And two achievements are using no hints and no lanterns. That ain't happening on my first run through, and there won't be a second. There is also a special mode you unlock by getting 50 clovers, only the game doesn't tell you where (at least which screen) they are in, so I hope you got them all before moving on, because some screens you can't go back to.

This is not a good way to run a hidden object game. Let's see if they've learnt for number three.


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Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Edgar Poe Conspiracy

Hey, it's holidays! So why not catch up with some of them there vidya games? First up, a hidden object game, Midnight Mystery #1.

You are a writer exposing mysteries, and somehow you get on the trail of Edgar Allen Poe, and his ghost comes to you and needs you to find out what happened to him by midnight or he will be dragged to hell. (Because... vidya games!) And so, you go into his stories, then find out they were told based on real things, and you find objects to find the truth of the mysteries. And help / fight other ghosts. Because... vidya games!

The most annoying aspect of this game is that the hidden objects are only listed eight items at a time, even when it says there are more than eight, but you can't move to the next part of the list until you've picked up the first lot. That just... no. Let me go at my own pace, and if I can grab some other items, that's fine, nothing will break. On the other hand, it will, for free, allow you to select an item and it will show you the silhouette, which is a great help I wish was in other games.

And nearly all the games are hidden object. Usually there's some other puzzles thrown in, but there are only around three things you are doing that aren't finding objects, and they aren't complicated at all. Could do with more to break it up.

The story itself is rather... silly, to be honest, but there are another three of these to see if they do something better with.


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