First, I’d like to thank everyone who read Jasmine Ross the Rebel’s tale of being the sixth member of The Breakfast Club. For those of you unaware, which is probably a lot of you, The Breakfast Club Jasmine’s adventures took place in was an interactive story adaptation of the classic 80s movie called Series which, unfortunately, isn’t available anymore. In the movie, which I’m sure many of you have seen, five high school stereotypes spend a Saturday in detention and, throughout the movie, learn to get to know that each one is more than the label placed on them. The first time I saw the movie was after it got mentioned in a Heroes comic story. The second time was when I downloaded this game and played this story. My friend, bloodrosered who also requested this, wrote her own fanfic from it called Beauty and the Brain.Read More »
The Breakfast Club Episode 11
Requested by BloodRoseRed.
A/N: After Jasmine’s faced with that sadistic choice given by Vernon, Bender manages to break her out. Can they get the rest of the Club together and figure out a way to defeat Vernon once and for all?
Community: Digital Estate Planning (HULU)
When Pierce’s father dies, he leaves one final request for his son. He must bring seven of his friends to play a video game he invented in the eighties and compete with them to earn his inheritance. Only one person seems intent on making sure Pierce does not win. Can Pierce and his friends work together so he can claim what is rightfully his?
This is not a review of a video game or a board game, but of an episode of Community. The premise of the series is that a lawyer faces disbarment because he faked his bachelor’s degree. Therefore, he has to get a real degree at Greendale Community College in order to practice law again. On the way, he forms a study group with a collection of misfits and goes on all sorts of wacky adventures. This show embraces the geek in all of us in a manner that’s not insulting. It’s also one of my favorite sitcoms to binge watch on HULU. I can honestly say that this episode is no exception. The first summary already shows that this episode is about an 8-bit video game. Since I review anything relating to video games and board games, this episode fits the mold. I should warn you that spoilers in this review are unavoidable, so proceed with caution.
As you can see, this is a Pierce episode. For those of you who don’t watch the show, Pierce Hawthorne is a racist and sexist elderly man with more wealth than sense. I’ll admit that I’ve always felt neutral about Pierce as a character, but he does manage to carry a good episode and this is one of them. Anyway, a while back, Pierce once suggested to his father, Cornelius Hawthorne, to invest in video games rather than their regular product, Moist Towelettes. In retaliation, Hawthorne went so far as to design a video game for Pierce to play when he dies.
As I said earlier, Pierce has to compete with his friends to rescue the white crystal from the black caverns, something his friends refuse to play along with. Whatever faults the characters in Community have, one of them is not backstabbing someone they’ve been friends with for years. Troy even points that out when explaining why they’re not going to fight him. Abed also points out that there’s no sport in beating Pierce, something the other characters, and I’m sure the audience, agree on.
As for why there’s no sport in beatine Pierce, it’s because he is an epic fail at playing video games. In order to play the game, you have to sit in front of a computer, let the camera scan your likeness and see an 8-bit version of yourself on screen. The opening credits show the process going down instead of the traditional opening with an 8-bit midi version of the theme song.
When beginning the game, Pierce can’t even tell which one he is, despite that being rather obvious. Britta claims to have the same issue and follows it up with saying that she assumes nothing because she’s not racist. Since Britta is extremely liberal to the point of having white guilt, you can bet that she’s lying. Pierce also can’t figure out that you need to tilt the joystick right in order to move right and, when trying to fight his friends after hearing the rules of the game, accidentally digs himself into a hole. He’s very lucky his friends chose not to fight him and, instead, turned it into an escort mission.
Just because this is a Pierce episode doesn’t mean the other characters don’t get a chance to shine. When they get to the town in the video game, the other characters go their separate ways to see what they can collect. Jeff and Britta visit an empty house with witty dialogue about a painting being crooked which Britta decides to straighten and ends up finding a secret passage. Jeff ignores the painting and tells Britta to stop playing like a girl, which is obviously a sexist statement. It’s a shining moment in the episode when Britta proves Jeff wrong. Then shows similar sexist beliefs by saying women don’t hack and slash our way through life. Britta claims that it’s because we’re one with life. I’m a woman and, when I’m not looking for secret passages in these types of games, I’m usually hacking and slashing. You can also find secret passages in video games through paintings on the wall. Therefore, Jeff just demonstrated his own ignorance. Anyway, Britta proves herself wrong later in the episode by hacking and slashing jive turkeys.
Annie and Shirley, who split off to go buy weapons, find themselves at the Blacksmith’s and the former accidentally kills him. When Shirley freaks out, Annie tells her not to apply real world morality to a video game. It’s something Shirley takes a little too literally as she proceeds to kill the Blacksmith’s wife when she finds the body. Then goes upstairs to what the game hints at is Shirley slaughtering the children.
They finish up by ransacking the store and burning it to the ground. It’s something you have to see to believe. What makes this black comedy moment even more funny is how the scene where they murder the Blacksmith and his family takes place right after Britta’s speech about how women are one with life.
Troy spends most of the game leaping and doing random things to figure out how to win it. He even plays poker with Pierce in the game, where they are both so bad that they lose all of their clothes. Don’t worry, it’s 8-Bit nakedness, so they can get away with showing their full bodies on national television.
Troy’s also the one who points out that Pierce’s father was right about video games being a bad investment in the eighties due to The Great Video Game Crash of 1983 during Cornelius Hawthorne’s speech about its purpose. Then, during Abed’s plot, gets jealous that he can’t have his babies, which I’ll explain later. Troy also gets to do his and Abed’s classic “Troy and Abed in the morning” line with “shooting lava” replacing “in the morning.”
Despite this being a Pierce episode, Abed gets his chance to shine. Before I explain the role of my favorite character, let me explain the video game. The name of the video game is Journey to the Centre of Hawkthorne and I already explained that up to eight people could play. You start out in the study room and, when you die, that’s where you respawn with absolutely nothing.
Doesn’t matter what potions you made, items you bought or anything else. If you die, you will lose everything. Therefore, as Jeff points out and the rest of the group says is rather obvious, dying in the game is bad. This makes me wonder if Pierce’s father added that detail recently because, in the show, the group hangs out in a Community College study room and Cornelius Hawthorne visited that very room in a previous episode.
I should also tell you that the game is incredibly offensive but you’re not supposed to take it seriously. I’m sure you remember that, in the second paragraph, I described Pierce as racist and sexist. Well, his father is even worse. Let me put it this way, name any existing prejudice in the world and you can bet that Cornelius Hawthorne has it. The enemies you first meet are hippies who only say, “peace, love, sex” repeatedly and bite you at the first chance they get.
You have to “rescue” a white crystal from the black caves, which takes the form of a black man’s face. Shirley points out the symbolic racism in this objective that flies over Pierce’s head in a scene that could be a reference to Breaking Bad. On the way, you go through The Valley of Laziness (a Mexican village with taco buildings),
Gay Island (an island with a rainbow and a stone hill that looks like a penis)
and ride the Free Ride Ferry (which is a wheelchair). In the Black Caves, you have to fight literal jive turkeys to get the crystal. Britta herself points out how offensive this all is every chance she gets. It’s as if the writers said to each other, “What type of game would an evil man with every kind of prejudice in existence design?” and came up with this. There’s more to this game, which I’ll explain in the next paragraph.
As I said two paragraphs ago, Abed gets his chance to shine. He spends the first part of the episode talking to an NPC named Hilda who gives him information on all sorts of topics.
He falls in love with her and finds out that she’s the daughter of the blacksmith Annie and Shirley killed. Then proceeds to explain that Hilda has to either marry one of the villagers or take her chances out in the wilderness. Therefore, the game is not only offensive, but also extremely complicated. It’s Troy’s turn to point that out. Anyway, Abed ends up marrying Hilda, and making babies with her in a G-rated way. Be prepared for more black comedy and sexism you’re not supposed to take seriously. Abed proceeds to use the many children Hilda gives him by enslaving them in his business and having them make anything the characters require. I really hope Abed never gets married and has children in real life.
I already said that Abed is my favorite character. While the show’s main character is Jeff, Abed is the lifeblood. He’s the eccentric member of the group who views their lives as a TV Show while referring to other media made famous by pop culture. Abed understands various fictional worlds better than the real world and many people, characters and viewers, speculate that he has Aspergers Syndrome. In this episode, he falls in love with the character, Hilda, due to being better able to understand a program than he can real women. He’s also the one who discovers the various rules of the game by explaining that, if you max out a character’s affection level, you can change their code.
It’s something he uses to make Hilda say she loves him and have her make his babies. He also uses his understanding of coding to make the babies his servants and use them to make various weapons as well as disposable mooks. Abed makes the mistake of saying that you can code children in the game to do what you want, like children in real life. Annie tries to explain otherwise, but Jeff stops her. Pierce, at one point, refers to Abed as Rain Man, which is a movie I have yet to see and, in all honesty, don’t want to.
You might think this episode is a boring plot about cooperation with no true enemy, but you couldn’t be more wrong. See, there’s one aspect I have yet to mention and that is Gilbert Lawson played by Giancarlo Esposito, most famous for his role as Gus Fringe on Breaking Bad, a drug dealer with the cover of an honest businessperson. In this episode, he starts out as an honest businessperson who proceeds to fill in the eighth slot and tries to beat Pierce to his inheritance. First, he attempts to play fair by winning through skill only to drink an extra strength potion Britta made which turned out to be poison. Then he uses cheat codes to beat Pierce and, when he gets to the throne room with the white crystal, has to agree to a certain condition in order to steal Pierce’s inheritance.
Before I reveal this condition, I should tell you that Gilbert is more than just Cornelius Hawthorne’s underling. He is Cornelius’s illegitimate son with a black woman. I’ll remind you that this man is not only extremely prejudice, but set up a game for Pierce where he could potentially lose his inheritance out of spite. Imagine how horrible Cornelius is to his illegitimate mixed race son that he won’t even acknowledge as his. In fact, the condition he imposes is that Gilbert not reveal who his father is so he doesn’t “besmirch the good name of Hawthorne” (his words not mine). It’s the one sad moment of an otherwise funny episode. Anyway, Gilbert ponders the conditions and then rejects them. The result is creating an enemy character who tries to kill Gilbert’s avatar while he’s shouting in anguish that he is Cornelius’s son. The study group teams up with him and uses Abed’s weapons and babies to help defeat him. This comes with a funny and gratifying scene where you see Cornelius taking his final breaths as he explains that he will not cheat the player out of a proper victory. In the end, the study group forfeits, something that might seem contrived. However, keep in mind that this episode takes place in a computer lab. Considering that the episode shows more of the game than they do the room, it’s something you can easily forget. I think they heard Gilbert’s cry and, since some of them had their own parental issues, they could easily relate. Pierce especially, considering that he and Gilbert have a common enemy. What makes this moment even more heartwarming is that Gilbert got the acceptance from Pierce that Cornelius would never give him, even in death.
Like many sitcom shows, this one has a credits gag at the end. You’d expect it to be something about the video game but that’s not what you get. Instead, you get to see Troy and Abed going to the study room and finding a baby they think is abandoned. They talk about how they have to raise the baby, with Abed getting a job at the food service while Troy’s sad and angry that he has to stay home and parent. Then it turns out that the baby’s mother was getting something from under the desk and leaves with the baby. Troy and Abed continue to go on as if it never happened. Not only does this have nothing to do with the episode, save one line from Troy, but it also makes no sense continuity wise. This episode takes place during Chang’s insane takeover of Greendale, which is a complicated plot that I won’t get into. However, I will tell you that he kicked the study group out, so there’s no way Troy and Abed could go near the school, much less spend time in the study room. What’s sad is that this isn’t even how Mark Harmon wanted the episode to end. According to this article, his original plan was for Abed to adjust the game so that Pierce could play baseball with his dad and finally hear him say, “great job, son!” Unfortunately, Chevy Chase left early due to fatigue, which was a common issue with him. In this case, he did this on the last day of filming so Mark Harmon had to make do with this credit’s gag. It led to a feud between the two ending with Chevy Chase leaving the show. In this case, I do agree with Mark Harmon that this would have been the perfect Credits Gag for the episode, even if he did have his own dick moments in the feud, which I won’t get into. However, I will say that it’s rather a shame that they couldn’t film it.
This episode is funny and enjoyable. I give it 8 out of 10; it lacks the proper credits gag, but still an enjoyable take on retro gaming.
The Lion’s Song Episode 1 Silence (Steam)
Wilma’s a promising young musician in early 1900s Austria who’s having trouble coming up with a new composition. Her professor offers to let her stay in his cabin for the week, hoping Wilma can find inspiration. Will she be able to write her next piece in time for the weekend concert?
As you can see, this game is historical fiction and it has a retro design to drive that point home. This chapter is about Wilma and her struggles with her own insecurities. This shows itself in symbolic dreams, her crush on her professor and her conversations with Leos over the telephone. I’ll admit that Arthur is a bit of a selfish jerk, trying to force Wilma to come up with a composition so he doesn’t lose face. However, Wilma’s crush on him is realistic as he is an accomplished professor. Leos is a man who calls a random number to test out his new telephone and ends up talking to Wilma about his problems while helping her in return.
The dreams are also very symbolic of the pressure Arthur put Wilma under and her very own insecurities. Wilma even finds herself weird for caring more about her musical career than she does about starting a family, something she briefly talks about with Leos. In other stories, I’d consider this sexist but, in this game, I actually thought it was a clever nod to the role of women in that time. Another aspect of the time is how remarkable Leos thinks the telephone and its ability to communicate with people from different parts of the world are. People of our time have the same reaction when we try out virtual reality for the first time at Best Buy.
The game play is simple point and click with you also picking Wilma’s dialogue options.
You choose what Wilma will say to people and you click various objects to help her find inspiration. Many players might find this confusing, but keep in mind that Wilma is a musician. She can hear music from the drops of the rain to the swinging of the lantern. Wilma also gets ideas from reading books and letters that help her decide how to write her composition. Not only is it your job to click on the various items. You also have to find them in the right order. Whether the audience thinks Wilma’s song is a masterpiece or run of the mill classical depends on you.
This game is insightful and intriguing. I give it 8 out of 10, a compelling psychological study on how musicians create.
Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death (Bigfishgames.com)
When a famous musician returns from the dead, he uses the power of music to paralyze the other members of his former band, the Dixie Peppers. Can you stop him and reverse the effects before everyone dies from malnutrition?
For those of you who subscribed to my blog, you already know that I reviewed the beta test. Now I’m going to review the whole game. This game takes place in the 1960s and the retro style shows, very well.
Not only that, but you get to see the history of a former fictional band. All I can say is that seeing it made me question the sanity of one of the members. There’s also a twist at the end that I can’t reveal to you but I will say that it’s either intriguing or disappointing, depending on your perspective. This is also a case where, instead of the villain just killing everyone that gets in his way in the most efficient manner possible, he uses methods that are so slow that the hero manages to escape.
This is a unique take on hidden object games. You go from scene to scene collecting items for your inventory. Some items require you to take part in hidden object scenes. I know that doesn’t sound any different from previous hidden object games I’ve reviewed but, in some of them, it’s not really collecting objects. It’s more moving them out of the way to collect fragments of the item you need.
In some scenes, you alternate between moving objects out of the way to collect notes and assembling them in order to get to the one item you need. You can also play mini-games and collect a note in every scene. If you’re stuck, use a hint. The map will help you get you where you need to go.
This game is retro and addictive. I give it 7 out of 10; a cool take on 1960s nightclubs.
Cadenza: Music, Betrayal and Death Beta Test
When a young woman visits her father at the Jazz Pepper Club, she finds everyone inside paralyzed. Can she fix this before they die of thirst?
The game takes place in the 1960s and is about a former band with a dark secret. So far, the plot seems to have some supernatural elements. This being a beta test, I can’t really go in depth about it but I will say that I love the scenery. Of course, that might be because I have a soft spot for retro.
The game play is your typical hidden object. You go from scene to scene collecting items for your inventory. You can use them in certain locations in order to advance throughout the game. The main character will record her thoughts and objectives in her journal from time to time. If you’re stuck, use a hint.
This game is addictive and intriguing. I definitely plan on buying the full version.