Sunday, September 11, 2016

Game Review: Potion Punch by Monstronauts

I play all sorts of games - from board to mobile to console and everything in between. Recently I came across a game called Potion Punch by Monstronauts. I stumbled across it  while I was looking for something else and found I really enjoyed it.

I had been playing Diner Dash, which I've played in various incarnations over the years, but there were some things I didn't particularly gel with in this version and decided to find something similar but that I would find more enjoyable. I was looking for a game I used to play called Coffee Buzz which was time management-esque game with a matching element. I didn't find it, but I did find a few other games that I installed and played and then uninstalled that very same day. Some just weren't engaging enough or weren't visually interesting or had interface issues that made it difficult to play.

And then I stumbled across Potion Punch from Monstronauts. I thought I'd give it a try thinking I'd probably end up uninstalling it as I had so many other games that day. But no, it surprised me and it is still on my phone and I am still playing it on an almost daily basis.

Potion Punch is a fun resource management game where you mix potions and grill up geckos and roots and serve them to customers. The longer you take, the more the customers lose there patience.

The opening is done in a comic panel style. There are no words but, like its comic influences, it doesn't need them to get across the story. It starts off pretty easy with a gnome showing you the ropes and filling customers' orders. As you earn coins, you can buy upgrades for items and venues. As you progress through the days, the difficulty ramps up (perhaps a little too quickly at times, but never game stopping.) Besides the theme of a medieval/fantasy tavern that serves potions, its art style is visually pleasing and it has a vibrant color palette that draws me in. While it does feel like it ramps up fairly quickly, it is not game-stopping or game breaking. You can continue on with your game whether you hit your goal or lose a few customers, you just won't earn as much.

When I first got the game, there were only two locations open but there has been an update since then and another location and more challenges have been added.

Also, did I mention the game is free? Yes! It is free and it is available for both Apple and Android devices.

You can find out more at Monstronauts website

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Automated Levels

My boyfriend got me Super Mario Maker for my birthday last year. In Super Mario Maker you can create levels and you can also play other people's levels. Creating levels is a lot of fun and you get
new resources every day. You can upload your levels and the only caveat is you have to be able to beat it.

One of the ways to play people's levels is by going through the 100 Mario Challenge. There are various difficulty levels: Easy, Normal, Expert. You get 100 lives to pass a certain number of levels in a difficulty level and you get a costume as a reward. You can only do it so many times on easy mode before you won't get any more costumes and you have to go to a more difficult mode. There are a wide variety of skill levels and imagination from so-so to amazingly well done.

And then there are automated levels.

In these levels you do nothing. It takes you through the whole thing and drops you off at the finish line. From a creative standpoint, they are very clever (most of the time.) For the most part, they are masterpieces of timing and creativity and it is obvious they worked very hard to get the timing right. But from a player viewpoint, I hate them.

I struggle with this in some ways because I understand how much work often went into them, but at the same time I don't get to play. They haven't made a level, they made a YouTube video. There is no interactivity in them, there are no choices to make, the only way you can fail is to try to move on your own. These aren't levels. It isn't a partnership between their skill as a designer and the player's skill as a player. The success of these levels is only possible by the player not doing anything, lest it throws off the timing.

Do I think these should go away? While they annoy me, it is still how someone wants to play the game and I wouldn't take that away from them. And while I think the space is big enough for a little bit of everything, including automated levels, I don't have to like everything. I will still probably cringe every time I see a title along the lines of "Stand Still" and "No Touchies."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

DCU Theory

I saw Batman V. Superman, and saying it had some problems feels like a bit of an understatement.  But there are plenty of reactions and opinions and you probably have enough of your own, so I’m not going to focus on that.

From this point on: there may be some spoilers and I am going to make a theory for Suicide Squad and the cinematic DCU, particularly focusing on Batman and Joker. There are also some spoilers for the comics, but if you haven’t read them by now, what are you waiting for.


So in the new Batman V. Superman movie, we have a much harder Batman. We have a Batman who kills, who is obviously haunted, and is a much darker version of Batman. 

It has been brought up to me that if we have a Batman who kills, there is no way the Joker would still be alive.

So what happened?

The Joker is dead.

In the movie there is the Robin costume with the message to Batman. In the comics, Jason Todd was not a very popular Robin and there was a vote to kill him off. The Joker beat Jason Todd to death with a crowbar.  And this is where the cinematic universe veers into an alternate timeline from the comics. In the comics, the Joker is alive, but in this timeline, Batman killed the Joker.

It would explain why he doesn’t have as many qualms about killing and why he is a much more haunted Batman. Not only is this after Jason Todd was killed, this is after he broke his rule and killed the Joker.(Note: if you want to go back to Batman's inception, yes, he did kill. But in the current form that a lot of people accept as Batman, he has his rules and one of them he doesn't kill)

And then we get to Suicide Squad. Joker is definitely in that, but is he in the timeline we think he is? Are all those times that he’s shown actually in the present? He’s not really shown with most of the Suicide Squad, I recall him being in the trailer with Harley Quinn. And there were a lot of clips of him by himself. And there was his laugh that the team reacted to, but that could’ve been editing or that he isn’t as dead as Batman thought he was. Everything he is wearing looks somewhat dated.
A very dated look
So what does this mean for the future?

I’ve heard they might do the Red Hood and, it was pointed out to me by someone who is more up on Batman than I am, this might put a wrinkle in my theory. But could it still work? Yes. So now we have a Batman who doesn’t have a problem getting his hands dirty, but part of the problem Batman has with Red Hood involves his willingness to kill. But if Batman doesn’t have the problem with killing, he would still need to have some reason he doesn’t agree with Red Hood’s methods and a reason why they would clash. And here is where they make it take a more psychological turn. The reason Batman and the Red Hood clash now isn’t because of their difference in methods – it is now because Batman is seeing himself in the Red Hood and doesn’t like what he sees. The reason we dislike something so strongly in another is often because we possess that trait ourselves and don’t want to face that reality. This telling would have Batman recognizing the Red Hood is really just himself. Perhaps in this retelling, it is him while he’s blacked out from one of his “Knightmares.” Whether it’s him or who it is in the comics (I’m not going to spoil everything), it would be an interesting look at his psyche and also a way to get him back on his path.

But then, all of this is just a theory while I while away my time waiting for Suicide Squad.