Sunday, October 14, 2012

Freeway Fury 2

Today I just discovered a terrific Flash game on Newgrounds called Freeway Fury 2.
The game is kind of a cross between the NES Knight Rider game in the perspective of the old Grand Theft Auto games for the Gameboy Color. The goal of the game is to continue driving to the end of each level and avoid crashing into other vehicles. The twist is that the player can also jump from car to car in much the style of Frogger. And much like Frogger, if you land on the road, you will get creamed by cars.
By performing various stunts (like jumping from car to car) you get Nitro boost points to accelerate the vehicle you are in to get to the end of the level in time. I'm going to say it now, there's not many things more fun than flying a jet plane and jumping out of it and into another.
The game is simple enough in mechanics and premise that it's very easy to get sucked in, and fun enough to get a little addicted.  Plus, there's a high score board to get on (which I did eventually), which is always good for arcade style games. But there's an interesting quirk in the calculation. When you die, you don't lose points, but get to keep all points you gained in that life. Since you get 6 continues, the best way to get a high score is to actually get a lot of points and die on purpose a few times. While it surely isn't expected, it definitely works with the flow of the game, and doesn't totally discourage hardcore players from simply restarting instead of using the continue. Anyway, I'm going to stop talking and let you all play.

For those interested, here is a link to the game:

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

What's the Deal with Adele?

This is a bit slow and behind the times, but that's how I work. After tons of comments and hearsay about this supposed musical goddess, I caved and gave her a listen. An honest to god chance. So I listened to "Someone Like You" (this version:
And here were my thoughts.
First off, she gets some rather unwarranted bonus points from me because the guy who introduced her is a fantastic actor by the name of James Corden. But that has nothing to do with Adele herself, so I had to get over my fanaticism and listen.
The first part of the song, the introduction so to speak, is a standard I III VI IV chord progression in A Major, given in a simple arpeggio at about 120 BPM. This put me off a bit, because this is a formulaic pop song opening, and nothing groundbreaking. Nothing beautiful about it either. The music for the song comes off as very superficial, cheesy, and obnoxious. Just like The Scientist, by Coldplay. An annoying overblown pop song.
But I had heard about her singing. Maybe her musical composition was over blown, but perhaps her singing was truly something to appreciate.
I was wrong. Starting off, her voice sounded simply average. Your basic slightly southern sounding drawl accompanied with that sort of huskiness that so many women add to their voices so as not to sound empty. Accompanied with the expected voice cracks, creaks, and squeals, something that supposedly makes a woman's voice sound sultry (think late night radio adverts), but makes her sound rather sloppy to me.
Then the breaking point. She started to screech like some sort of exotic bird. In humans, however, I would never call it exotic in humans. It's just bad singing to me.
My girlfriend claimed to me that it was the lyrical content of the songs that made her music so great.
Except, not at all. Simple rhyme schemes, bland subject matter, etc. All the songs seem to be about some one guy that broke up with her, and she doesn't take any perspective other than the heartbroken ex-girlfriend.
The verdict: Adele is just any other pop star that used the pop music formula to gain popularity. Her somewhat out of the ordinary nature, i.e. not 100% typical, nature led her to be successful in that musical venture, which is what happens to the other successful pop artists.

I would personally like some actual substance to music that got popular, dealing with philosophy or psychology or perhaps history or even mathematics or science. But no, we get songs about sex, and heartbreak. Isn't that wonderful?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Card Wars

I, like many other denizens of the Internet, have oft found myself playing games, watching videos, and skimming my Facebook feed with no real sense of purpose, usually each activity is short lived and pointless.
But every now and then we all find the diamond in the rough.
Today, I have made one of these discoveries.
It's a little game called Card Wars, published by 
GangOfGamers and GeneralVimes, and it's even more addicting than Pandemic 2.
The game is a lot like Risk, except with playing cards and power-ups instead of dice and figurines.
The last game I played lasted over 50 turns, not one of which was uneventful.
The game has wonderful AI, and the game rules are so simple to learn it's almost ridiculous (but not quite ridiculous).  Further, the game actually has a way of letting you know how well you are doing.
The BGM of the game will change based on the type of situation you are in.  If you have a big advantage, the game will play a relaxed reggae beach tune.  If the game is relatively balanced, then the game will play a sort of medieval/renaissance sounding piece.  If you're really in a dire situation you get a sort of battle song playing.
It's really quite helpful, as well as entertaining.

This game is easily worth the time to play, guaranteed to grant good times if you are a fan of strategy games of any kind.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Damaged, Album Review

Henry Rollins’ first album performed with Black Flag is like an emotional typhoon.  From ,“Six Pack” and “TV Party”, the humorously sarcastic critiques of the American slacker, to the self-loathing journal entries that make up the entirety of the second side of the album, Damaged is a lo-fi thrash of angst and anger.  The guitars are played as if just being learned: with feedback and wrong notes played constantly. The drums are beat with speed and with no regard for accuracy or technique. The entire album is composed completely faithful to the punk ethic. Using that which was available to them, Black Flag played in an aggressively amateur style, making it the perfect kind of album for confused youths. Anyone who has felt rage at themselves, or the police, or the world, or anything, can relate to Damaged.  The yelped vocal delivery of Henry Rollins makes it quite evident that all of the songs are genuine.  Take the opening lyrics of “Damaged I” for instance: “My name's Henry and you're here with me now! My life, it’s a song, it’s so you won’t even let it happen. You won’t, you won’t let…” These are the rantings of a mentally unstable young adult struggling with depression and the pressures of society. This makes a lot of sense when you consider that Rollins was only 20 at the release of Damaged. Eerily, these themes would pop up again ten years later with another group with a similar sound; the dark lyrics and the noise-driven guitars were clearly influential on Kurt Cobain.  Damaged is the quintessential hardcore album of the ‘80s, yet it remains one of the most notable albums released in the past 40 years.