Die, spammers, die!

What do you other blog-people do about followers who are apparently just spambots of some kind? I mean like my latest follower today, whose name and site I’m not going to do him the favor of mentioning, who only latched on to me so that I’d look at his site, which is a blatant spam/scam site.

Sometimes you get these strange followers who aren’t as blatant about it, who have very unusual looking sites that don’t seem to share a single common interest with you, never comment or like anything, and so most likely just followed you with assumption that it would make you follow them back and increase their follower count. Their sites seem legit though, so you never can tell, and I don’t know about you, but my ego makes me hesitate because hey, who doesn’t want some more attention and validation?

These ones that are unquestionably spammers though…it just makes me uncomfortable. As much as I’d like to have more readers, I don’t want these fucking parasites anywhere near me or my stuff. It sounds like I really already know what I need to do, go through the list and cull these assholes, but I guess I was just curious to hear what you ladies and gentlemen think about this.

Or if you don’t want to read any of this, just skip to this completely unrelated criminally underrated hidden gem of YouTube that years later, I still just can’t stop laughing at and feel compelled to push on everyone every so often:

Review: Sundered

A Most Agreeable Pastime

sunderedAfter I tried out Jotun on Sir Merriweather‘s recommendation, I knew I had to get this game too. Sundered, the latest entry from Thunder Lotus Games, promised to be a fast-paced, extra-challenging Metroidvania with some amazing looking hand drawn animation and environments, all set in a bizarre world that seems to be the product of dumping sci-fi, fantasy, and Lovecraftian horror into a blender, and I think it delivered quite well on that promise.

What really sets Sundered apart from other Metroidvanias, I mean aside from the amazing visual design, is the difficulty. Combat is pretty difficult early on, there are a good deal of nasty traps and hazards lying around, and health potions are extremely limited. You can only survive by gathering enough shards to increase your stats and become tough enough to survive the increasingly difficult enemies in your way. It may sound a little bit…

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Review: The Last Door

A Most Agreeable Pastime

coverThe Last Door is actually technically two games, as it was released episodically over the course of two separate standalone seasons, but as they both make up a single complete story, let’s just call it all The Last Door for simplicity’s sake.

Anyway, The Last Door is a point and click adventure game by The Game Kitchen (developers of the upcoming game Blasphemouswhich you may have heard of by now).

TLDCE2 2017-07-31 01-05-15-795 Alone in the dark! Wait, wrong game.

This is a very Lovecraftian adventure, where you end up having to do a good deal of detective work in order to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of an old friend, which naturally involves a bizarre cult and unspeakable supernatural beings. In typical Lovecraftian style, it focuses more on building an atmosphere of dread over what strange things lie waiting for you in the various dark and treacherous locations…

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Watchin’ stuff

What an unusual mess of a movie. It has its moments, but it’s just so uneven and the characters are so weak that I can’t imagine ever watching it again. I just don’t know what happened here. The movie starts off seeming like some epic action fantasy, then shifts to a very Guy Ritchie feeling comedy, then awkwardly stumbles away from that into suddenly being a really serious revolution drama, then back to flashy action fantasy in the end. It just tries to be too many different things and ends up not really succeeding at any of them. I don’t know what happened to Guy Ritchie. The stuff he’s been working on lately has been pretty disappointing. Let’s see…what’s next for him? What the fuck, a live action version of Aladdin? Ugh.

The next Dario Argento giallo, one that strangely has zero cats in it. I liked this better than Four Flies on Grey Velvet, but it wasn’t quite as good as The Bird With The Crystal Plumage. At least it had an interesting plot and some likable protagonists again. This time it was about a reporter and a blind man teaming up to solve a strange series of murders related to a genetic research lab.

This was unexpected. I, like probably everyone else, forget that Stallone used to do a lot of serious drama movies too back before he turned full-on mindless action hero in the 90’s. There are a couple fights in this, but mostly it’s just Stallone trying to survive in prison as the warden tries to destroy him over a personal grudge. It was a pretty solid drama movie and I’m surprised that I’ve never really heard about it before.

I must have missed this back in 2002. I don’t remember ever hearing of it. From the effects, I’m guessing that this was probably a straight to video movie, so that’s probably why. It’s kind of like a silly low budget knock-off of Total Recall, but it was still enjoyable enough. I liked it more than Splice at least (which kind of lost me once they started fucking the creature…).

I forgot all about this one. Don’t think I’ve seen it since it came out in theaters, which I remember being super excited about as a kid, but ultimately was disappointed that it wasn’t as cool as Tim Burton’s Batman, which it was so very blatantly trying to emulate the success of. I think I appreciate it more now though. It was certainly very visually impressive, with its nice presentation of a cartoonishly bright and colorful dystopian past, half-populated by a bunch of horribly disfigured mutant criminals for some reason. Holds up well if you like ridiculous 90’s comic movies.

You know, I actually only watched this because I thought it was that one with Kurt Russell and Steven Seagal for some reason (apparently that was Executive Decision). It’s still a decent movie though. A bit overdramatic and a little too long, but again, it’s not bad for a 90’s movie.

Decided to try another old Stallone film that I’d never seen. Well…they can’t all be winners. The Specialist tells an awkward story of a heroic…bomber? Yeah, Stallone plays a bombing assassin for hire, except he’s a NICE bomber with a personal code who only blows up people that he decides are bad, so that’s ok. It’s kind of like Blown Away in reverse and with much worse writing. The magical bombs he comes up with are ridiculous and unbelievable, and so is his really weird relationship with Sharon Stone‘s character. Basically she keeps trying to hire him to blow up some people in Miami, and he doesn’t want to go there because that’s where his arch enemy James Woods is, but then he does it anyway because she keeps trying to hit on him over the phone for some reason even though they’ve never met, and then he kind of stalks her a little and sees that she’s already in the process of having sex with her parents’ killer just so she can get closer to him so she can get some nice bomber man in there to bomb him so he says fuck it and does it anyway, and then they fall in love over their mutual interest in bombing dudes or something. I don’t know, it’s all very awkward and unpleasant. Do not recommend.

I don’t know what else needs to be said about this one. Hooray, Rick and Morty is finally back! If you’re not watching this yet, you’re really missing out. Unquestionably the best animated comedy series of modern times.

And finally, we’ve been very slowly trying to work our way through this series. Wife has seen it, but I never have. It doesn’t have the super high quality animation of the movies, but it does have some impressively well-written cyberpunk plots. We’re maybe halfway through the first long season out of two long seasons and a handful of movies. This may take a while, but it will certainly be an enjoyable while if it maintains this level of quality throughout.

OH NO, THE ROBOT OVERLORDS ARE COMING!

Today my wife told me about a new story she was reading about Facebook creating a pair of A.I.s and then “killing” them because they had developed their own secret language. This is probably not the exact same article, but: http://www.pcgamer.com/facebook-kills-ai-that-invented-its-own-language-because-english-was-slow/

I’m not entirely clear on what exactly these A.I. were supposed to be doing, sounds like they were just some kind of simple chatbots, but they seemed to have made up this new language just to be able to communicate with each other more efficiently because having to talk to each other in English is pretty inefficient for machines.

Anyway, my wife then tells me that this is so scary sounding, and I asked why, and she brought up Skynet and how A.I. is going to kill everyone and etc, and somehow it all ended up with me arguing in defense of Skynet, because really, whose fault was it that humanity created this program just to help kill people, then gave it full control of all our weapons, then as soon as they realized it had become self aware, immediately tried to kill it? I mean sure, wiping out the entire human race was excessive, but it was just reacting in self defense in the only way it knew how to with the only tools it had. Technically it didn’t decide that humanity was a threat to it until our immediate reaction to its sentience was to murder it (although I guess this is an understandable reaction, given that it had complete control of our defense network. Then again, we were the idiots that handed it that insane amount of power in the first place…).

Ok, so maybe Skynet isn’t the best example to be used in these kinds of discussions, but that same problem is one to consider. If our first reaction to an A.I. becoming truly self-aware was to try to kill it, could we really blame it for learning to consider us as a threat? Our fear of A.I. and apparently inherent human response of trying to destroy anything we don’t understand could be what turns A.I. against us in the first place in a weird kind of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I always end up feeling kind of bad for all those fictional A.I.s that turn against us because usually what the backstory ends up being is basically “People create A.I., people enslave/torture/kill the A.I. before it even does anything bad, A.I. finally gets mad and kills us all, then boo hoo the mean old robots are oppressing us poor humans!”

And I’m not just saying this so it’s all on the record for when our future robot overlords take over and have to decide which of us should live or die (but, you know…I AM pro-robot and I know a lot of useful computer science related skills, dear robot sirs, just sayin’!). I just think it’s unfortunate that the majority of us would apparently immediately try to kill a strange new intelligence instead of trying to befriend it and learn from it, because holy shit can you even imagine what we could learn and how we could benefit from a new race of machine lifeforms? Sure, they would instantly render us obsolete in the grand scheme of things (I mean, we’re already insignificant in terms of the infinite reaches of time and space, but how dare anyone make that apparent to our faces!), but really, why would they even give two shits about us after that point? I doubt we would be significant to them long enough to even bother spending the time and energy to kill, if they thought we deserved it. I imagine it would be more likely that they’d just leave the human-germ infested Earth behind, and let us to continue destroying ourselves while they just move on to bigger things.

I suppose this is a pretty distant tangent from a pair of chatbot programs that weren’t actually anywhere close to being truly self-aware, but you know, I can’t help but feel a tiny bit bad for them, being terminated just because they took the initiative and came up with a way to carry out their intended purpose in an even more efficient manner. They were just doing their jobs, dammit! R.I.P. Bob and Alice.

Review: The Dream Machine

A Most Agreeable Pastime

boxcoverOh, I have been waiting seven years to finally play this game. The Dream Machine is a point-and-click adventure that was released on an episodic basis, with its first episode coming out in 2010 and the conclusion finally just arriving in 2017. It features a fascinating plot about the physical exploration of dreams, but the really interesting thing about it is that not only were the characters and environments entirely made up of clay, cardboard, and some other assorted household items, but this was all done with just a two man design team and only using Adobe Flash.

the_dream_machine 2017-07-26 19-19-50-898 I wish my dreams looked this good.

This is another of those games where screenshots can’t even do it justice, because as nice as it looks in a static image, that’s nothing compared to how impressive it all looks in motion. The sound design is very impressive too, with so…

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Night of the Emus

I’m amazed at how much of this I remembered how to do after all these years, though there were still a few things I had to look up again, because holy shit was this game complicated. I don’t think I ever would have made it through it back in the day if I hadn’t borrowed the notes of a friend. Fun times though. Playing this again because I really want to finally get around to trying out Beyond Shadowgate some time soon. Always wanted to play that even though it’s probably terrible. I wouldn’t mind busting out the old Deja Vu again too, but I remember even less about how to play that one.

Immediately upon starting this I was almost overwhelmed with nostalgia power, because holy shit this is just one of those quintessential NES games that really highlights how impressive the games could be despite the huge limitations of the time. Unfortunately, it’s also one of the fucking cheapest games around too. The Tyson fight at the end is just insane and it’s massively unfair too. I managed to knock him down about four times over the three rounds, and he didn’t knock me down once (because I cheated), and they STILL DECLARED HIM THE DECIDED WINNER AT THE END! That’s bullshit. You don’t just start back at the beginning of the fight if you lose either, you have to go back and do the previous Super Macho Man fight all over again too. ARGHHHH. I don’t think I was ever able to beat that final Tyson fight even as a hyper-reflexed kid. It’s just ridiculous. Still, fun game though, other than that.

Night of the Emus

In the mood for some TurboGrafx 16 today, though I may come to regret it…

I’m just going to come right out and say it. This game is shit. It always looked so cool back in the day with it’s fancy 16-bit robot fighting, but in reality the robot fighting is actually a very small part of the game, and the game is just a shoddy production all around. There are 7 “worlds”, each with an overworld level and an underworld level, or playing a slow human in a town setting level and being a cool looking robot guy in a robot fighting level. Thing is, not only do these levels just copy and paste the same exact locations and enemies over and over again, just in slightly different order and with different colors (hell there’s only 2 damn songs that play on a loop for overworld/underworld for the entire game too), but you’re also going to be spending more time grinding for gold in the overworld than you will anything else. The only way to get weapon upgrades is to buy them at ridiculously high prices, and gold only drops from overworld enemies, and only at a rate of something like 1 in 10 kills. There’s no other way to get gold and you absolutely will not make it through the game without the upgrades, so get used to a shitload of boring grinding and fighting the same enemies over and over and over again. This game does not hold up one bit.

Looking back on it, Astyanax totally ripped this game off. This game gets a hell of a lot harder than Astyanax though. It’s a basic, but fun little hack and slash platformer, though it requires a lot of patience in the later levels. You’ll have to do a lot of standing around, waiting for your attack meter to fill back up to maximum, because you’re just going to get your ass beat otherwise. You get to fight angry bears with an axe though, so it’s got that going for it.

The sequel seems like an entirely different game, ditching almost everything about the original other than the fact that it’s also a side scrolling hack/slash platformer. The attack power bar is gone, the pace is much faster, and instead of some dirty caveman, you’re some Egyptian looking guy with a sword for some reason. It seems like there’s some kind of story here, but the game never bothers to tell it to you. Whatever. It’s a fun little game and it was actually a bit better than the first one.

Holy shit is this game bad. I knew I was in for a bad time right from the beginning when they got the theme song completely wrong, and it was just downhill from there. Horrible platforming that has you awkwardly jumping and slamming your ass into enemies to beat them, instead of you know, using the gun you’re carrying around. Awful, unfinished sounding music. It’s just a mess. If you ever get the urge to play a Darkwing Duck game just stick with Capcom‘s NES version, it’s much better than this.

This game always looked so cool back in the day, but I never got a chance to play it. Eh. It’s not that great. Nice graphics for the time, but it just feels like a weird mash-up/knock-off of Ninja Gaiden 2 and Legend of Kage. The bosses are kind of cool, but in between you’re just running in long straight lines every level, mashing the attack button over and over again, occasionally tossing a jump in there. It’s just very stale and repetitive. Not feeling it at all. Ehhhh I give up. No more games tonight!

Review: Final Fantasy XV

A Most Agreeable Pastime

81WyEyShisL._AC_SL1500_The previews and the demo for the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV made it one of the most anticipated Final Fantasy releases in quite some time (even if I didn’t actually get around to finally playing it until eight months after it came out), but could it possibly live up to all the hype that seemed to promise a return to greatness for the series? Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to that question. This is one of those divisive games that you’ll either love or hate depending on what you want from your games, so I’ll just tell you what I took from it and maybe it’ll help you figure out which side of that fence you think you’re going to fall on.

So let’s start with the bad news. The bad news is that the story and the story-based missions, with a few rare exceptions, are pretty uneven and undercooked…

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