Metroid Dread (Nintendo Switch)

It’s a new side-scrolling Metroid, not a 3D one like Prime. Super Metroid is still the reigning champion of side-scrolling Metroids, but this one is pretty good. It’s also hard. I died an embarrassing number of times on bosses. Part of that is because propping my foot up on my opposite knee is apparently enough to interfere with the Bluetooth connection of these FUCKING joycons, creating infuriating lag, and the other is that I’m probably old and stupid. Like, seriously, I was making rookie mistakes that my 10-year old self would have found embarrassing.

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Dungeon Encounters (PC)

I feel like I should hate this, but then I find myself playing it for 2 hour blocks at a time. I can’t tell if it’s actually any good, or it’s something that appeals just enough to the OCD in me to sucker me in.

If you’ve never heard of this game, it’s a barebones turn-based RPG. Every element in the game, the player characters, the battle and magic system, items and inventory, exploration, the artwork, the music, etc. is reduced to the bare essentials to make a complete game. I’m not going to bother to deep dive into the all of the little details to set up my thoughts, because every review ever already perfectly explains all of the details. There’s so little to explain it’s impossible they left anything out. So if you want a deeper explanation of everything, just go read a proper review.

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Roar (Movie, 1981)

A friend of mine recommended I watch “Roar”. It’s a 1981 film about a guy who opens up a wild animal (mostly lions) rescue and lives with the animals. They guy who wrote and directed the movie also starred in it. Essentially the actors simply moved into a house filled with dozens of wild (not trained or tamed) lions and let the cameras roll.

Here are some of the trivia facts listed for Roar on IMDB:

During filming in 1977, Melanie Griffith was mauled by a lion and required plastic surgery. Griffith reportedly received fifty stitches to her face.

Cinematographer Jan de Bont was mauled and scalped by a lion on the set. de Bont required over 120 stitches to sew his scalp back from where a lion had bitten his head. After medical treatment, de Bont actually returned to the production to complete his D.O.P. duties.

During production, director/star Noel Marshall was attacked and severely injured by one of the lions in the film. He was hospitalized and it took him several years to completely recover from his injuries.

Assistant Director Doron Kauper was attacked and mauled by a lion during production filming of this picture. Kauper’s throat was bitten open from whereupon the lion proceeded to bite his jaw and attempted to rip an ear off. Reportedly, this attack on Kauper almost cost him his life.

Tippi Hedren fractured a leg during production when an elephant bucked her off its back when she was riding on top. Moreover, also during production, Hedren was bitten on the back of her head by a lioness called Sheri. Hedren received thirty-eight stitches to the open wound. The incident can be seen in the finished picture. Hedren is hanging to the branch of a tree when thirty-four lions run across her. The thirty-fifth lion bites at her head. Hedren’s screams and the blood seen are real. Hedren once said of being bitten by a lion: “Let me tell you, it hurts when you’re bitten by a lion. It’s not only that you may have an open, gaping wound, plus shock, but the pressure of those enormous jaws is so strong that it hurts”.

In 1978, a flood from a dam break killed many lions in the film, washed away the set and destroyed nearly all of the movie, including sets, completed film footage and three key lions including Robbie, the movie’s lion king. The picture was set back several years and the damaged done amounted to approximately US $4 million.

John Marshall was bitten by a lion during production filming of this picture and required fifty-six stitches.

Deputy Sheriffs had to shoot three lions during the flooding of the Marshall ranch. One of these lions was Robbie, the lion king of the picture. Robbie was a unique black-maned Rhodesian lion.

During the promotion of this picture, Tippi Hedren categorically stated that there would never be a ‘Roar 2’ sequel.

I like that last one the most.

Roar is a horrible, horrible movie with a terrible plot and worse acting, and yet you find yourself watching every second because these ain’t no CGI lions. Every second that unfolds you’re just waiting for the lions to attack another actor or crew member or each other, and it happens pretty often.

Horrible. Terrible. Highly recommended.

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Mischief Maker’s Mini-Review Roundup, Autumn 2021

Been a while since I did one of these, but I bought a few games recently. So thoughts:


Wonderful strategy/puzzle hybrid based on the “early game” of a space 4X that sees you peacefully colonizing an infinite galaxy by colonizing planets then building faster than light gates between them to satisfy trade demands, with the goal being to create the most prosperous civilization you can within 25 years.

I can’t say enough good things about this game. It has a zillion overlays to clearly communicate what can be built where and for what at a glance (protip: the Alt key is your friend!) and the whole drag-to-link interface will see you creating a galaxy-spanning trade empire in minutes. Add to that a whole science research system that unlocks crazy new ways to connect and exploit (and occasionally explode) the planets of the galaxy. And unless you scan new planets, you can undo every move in case you colonize yourself into a corner by mistake.

I honestly can’t come up with any complaints about this delightful game, it’s my top contender for 2021 Game of the Year. Highly, highly recommended!

(More games after the break!)
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Halloween (Movie, 2018)

Halloween is one of the most convoluted movie series of all time. As of the release of Halloween (2018), there are now five separate timelines in the franchise. There’s the original, which consists of Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers (1988), Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers (1989) and Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995). (That’s films 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6.) Then there’s Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982), which refers to the first two movies as fictional films. Next is the Halloween (1978), Halloween II (1981), Halloween H20: 20 Years Later (1998) and Halloween: Resurrection (2002) timeline (films 1, 2, 7, and 8), in which Halloween H20 jumped over movies 3-6 and picked up where #2 left off. There’s also Halloween (2007) and Halloween II (2009), Rob Zombie’s reboots.

The latest trilogy, beginning with Halloween (2018), is a direct sequel to the first film, leaping over everything after that. It is also, somewhat confusingly, the third film in the franchise to be simply named “Halloween”.

In Halloween (2018) we find a 61-year-old Michael Myers, who has been in captivity since the murders of 1978. During those same 40 years, Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) has been preparing for the return of Michael Myers. Strode is almost a carbon copy of Sarah Connor in Terminator 2 as she has spent decades building a fortress and learning how to handle weapons, preparing for an adversary that no one else believes will come. Because of her fears she has been diagnosed as mentally ill and shunned by her daughter’s family, who thinks she needs help.

Don’t worry, most of the people who doubt Laurie Strode end up dying gruesome deaths.

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Psychonauts 2 (PC)


Controls in 2 are much MUCH better and more refined, which is to be expected. In 1 I’m constantly fighting the camera (pro-tip: if you decide to replay it, turn off smart camera) to some degree, the lock-on targeting is clumsier, and so are certain interactions with the environment like rail grinding and climbing poles. In 2 you “snap on” to climbable objects much better. In 2 you can also jump up climbable objects to move up faster, whereas in 1 it just dismounts you.


This is one of those labor of love games. Production is top-notch. Everything retains that Tim Schafer / Tim Burton-esque weird cartoon design aesthetic from the first one. Animation is great and characters animate with actual personality instead of being generic, indistinguishable mo-cap. All of the acting so far is excellent, except for Sasha Nein who sounds really wooden for some reason. I checked and it’s the same actor, so I don’t know what the deal is. Based on the first level, it looks like the level design and the little details are going to be just as inspired as the first game.

The introduction / first level cuts right to the chase which is GOOD. There’s an intro movie on launch and then a brief level introduction when you start the game, but then you get to play through a level right away and get into the weirdness of a mind invasion. The way the level transitions between parts of the level and in-game cutscenes to hide the fact they’re teleporting you around is really well done and doesn’t feel like it’s obnoxiously pulling you out of the action.

So far, it’s pretty much the same style of action-platforming as Psychonauts 1. You also get about 6 powers right at the start as well, so you get several abilities to play with as opposed to a slow trickle of doling out one thing at a time over 6 hours until you FINALLY have enough abilities for things to start to get interesting. There’s still unlockable powers, as well as the ability to level up powers.

Some of the enemies actually have weaknesses to certain abilities, so the combat looks like it’s a bit more than “you have different abilities but they all do interchangeable damage.” I can’t remember the depth of combat in the first game, so I don’t remember if that’s standard.

All of the collectibles are back (figments, baggage tags, etc). I’m not sure how I feel about the figments. I guess if they do a good job of scattering them around and making it fun to navigate around and collect them it’ll be fine, otherwise it’ll just be a chore.

Initially I found that the writing is good. It retains the subtler, drier humor of the first game, in contrast to something more over-the-top like Portal. Characters all feel like they have unique personalities and aren’t just one-note joke machines you find in other shittier games trying to be funny.

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Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade Expansion Notes!

The official wiki hasn’t updated, unless there’s a special Crusade wiki somewhere, so let me help you with the almost entirely new rules (as compared to the game in 2016).

The teaser trailer for the expansion!

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Infinite Space III: Sea of Stars (PC)

Infinite Space III: Sea of Stars

I’ll admit my bias right off the bat, the original Strange Adventures in Infinite Space was the title that started my love of indie gaming. A Star Trek inspired coffee break game that had you illegally exploring the cloud nebula as its first human representative, (for better or often worse), grabbing everything not nailed down then delivering it all to your mob boss patron for fame and fortune. The sequel Weird Worlds was more of the same but better, yet retaining many flaws from the original. Then FTL came out and was a worldwide sensation. Years later this third iteration was finally released to middling response in a post-FTL market.

Which is a damn shame because not only is the third the best of the series, its innovations elevate it to the point of… I’ll put it this way, what King’s Bounty is to the Heroes of Might and Magic games, Infinite Space III is to the Sword of the Stars games (The 4X originals).

The game takes place on a 3D map of space where you have 25 years to explore all the star systems of the cloud nebula by moving in straight lines from star-to-star, avoiding nebula clouds that will slow (most) star drives to a crawl, and grabbing as much loot as possible before the time limit… and maybe saving humanity from certain destruction along the way. All finished in 30 minutes or less! Some veterans of the series complained about the switch to 3D, but I love it; you no longer get trapped in a corner by nebula clouds like you could in the 2D games, and navigating a single fleet in 3D is a piece of cake compared to ordering around an entire 3D space empire in SotS.

Your ship is fully modular, letting your replace your weapons, shield, FTL drive, impulse drive, and many other systems with higher-tech alien equipment you find on your journey. On the way you might pick up or hire alien ships to add to your fleet, including fighter-craft. Unlike the earlier games, the world is alive in IS3. Alien fleets move from star-to-star and if you arrive in a system when two enemy fleets are there, you have the option of allying with one to team up against the other. As time goes on in your 25 year mission, the technology level of the nebula increases (indicated by announcements from home of a new ship class available) and if you reach an alien homeworld with a ship of that species in your flotilla, you can upgrade it to a higher class with more weapon hardpoints and potentially new abilities (like upgrading to a Garthan light carrier with its unlimited hangar of disposable fighter-craft). PROTIP: You only need one corvette or survey-class ship in your fleet to get the full cargo space bonus.

Combat in this game happens in pauseable realtime in a 2D circular combat arena whose size is based on the number of fleets taking part and their respective weapon ranges. Unlike earlier games, you can warp in individual ships where you want when you want, so Urluquai-style pincer maneuvers are totally doable for the player at last. Once on the map, ships autofire their weapons at whatever is in range, each hardpoint having a different visible firing arc, and you can maneuver them by dragging a path. Fighter-craft make strafing runs based on their own AI, but you can specify their target ship. And its worth noting that while capital ships suffer permadeath, if you win a battle any fightercraft of yours that died can be recovered and repaired afterward.

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Mischief Maker’s Top 10 Games of 2020

Mischief Maker’s Top 10 games of the year 2020.

10. Jet Lancer

A wildly fast modern arcade game that plays like the souped-up lovechild of Time Pilot and Lunar Lander. With fast WASD and mouseaim controls, fly your superjet with modular weapons through a 30+ mission story campaign. Shoot down hundreds of enemy fighters, boats, tanks, and giant mecha bosses in a combat system that rewards perfectly-timed invincibility rolls with temporarily powered-up attacks. There’s also an aftergame endless mode. An absolutely thrilling game to play, my only complaint is the vague scoring system can be extremely frustrating on certain missions when trying for that perfect “Ace” rating.

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The Making of Prince of Persia (Journals 1985-1993) by Jordan Mechner

The second (of two) books Jordan Mechner self-published is another set of his own hand-written journals, this time covering the development of Prince of Persia and its sequel, Prince of Persia 2.

The journal begins as Karateka has become the #1 best selling game on the Apple II. Not only does Mechner make 15% royalty off every copy sold for the Apple II, but a slightly lesser royalty (7.5%-10%) on ports for other systems. It’s enough money to cover his expenses for the next few years, but eventually he’ll either need to make another game, sell one of his film manuscripts, or (gulp) get a day job. After graduating tom Yale in 1985, Mechner makes the trip from NYC back to California to begin work on a new, Persian-styled game that is instantly dubbed “Prince of Persia” around the office.

The Broderbund Mechner returns to is not the one he left. Games like Choplifter aren’t selling like they used to. The company’s new best seller is Print Shop.

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