Avatar V-Game Review – Imagine Girl Band

Can you? Can you imagine a girl band? I bet you can’t. I bet, when you try, all you have is a blank space and the feeling of hopelessness when your favourite steak knife (?) is out of stock and you have to settle for second best.

The ‘imagine’ games were a series of shovelware nonsense pushed out by Ubisoft to capitalise on the casual gaming market that was en vogue during the Nintendo Wii and DS era. Don’t fancy your kids shooting soldiers in ‘Call of Duty’ or smashing deities in the face in ‘God of War’? Get them into some harmless touch screen fun on a Nintendo. They covered a lot of bland topics and you can regularly find them taking up space in charity shops and lining the walls of CEX because parents and grandparents bought them in droves and now nobody wants them.

You start by choosing your name and what instrument you want to play. I went with Fluke, cos I’m cool, and bass guitar, because everyone knows that’s the coolest. You also get to choose one of three genres of music to specialise in so I opted for funk. After some perfunctory story about being in a band and looking for a new member, you start practising. When I say “practising” though I mean engaging in a basic version of any rhythm game from the past 20 years. My band is called The Oppress because funk music is very music about sticking it to “the man” and how much he’s holding us all back. Fluke and the Oppress. Yeah.

The song plays in the background and coloured buttons move across the top of the screen. When the button reaches the circle at the end, you tap the corresponding button with your stylus. The closer it is to being perfectly in the circle, the higher the score you get is. You can choose to practise with the rest of your band mates at home or you can perform… in the library?

This, to me, had “bar in the aquarium” vibes. Do music and reading go together? I get distracted when trying to do both but each to their own, I suppose. I was practising the whopping three songs our band had in the library and getting fairly good scores, however the game wasn’t moving forward so I took the girls to the mall instead.

You can buy instruments, new items of clothing and accessories at the mall like a real mall. As my character is a teenager and we hadn’t done any gigs yet I didn’t have a lot of money so I bought a new top and trousers to complement the funk style the band was going for. Still nothing. I went home to speak to what I thought was my brother but was actually my boyfriend who I never see because I’m either at school or with the girls trying to kick out the jams. Still nothing. With very little options, I went back to the library and performed each song until my score was off the charts.

Success! By smashing the songs, I opened up a brand new place to visit on the map; the park. I also earned some decent cash from performing at the library so I headed back to the mall to buy another bass guitar. I needed my instrument to match my new outfit, of course. It was then that my thirty minutes were up and I decided to stop.

It’s not an inherently bad game albeit one that’s so bland you wouldn’t be able to pick it out in a line-up some six months after last seeing it. If you aim for the lowest common denominator then you’re guaranteed to refrain from offending anyone. It blows my mind that someone will have paid full price for this once.

*5 out of 10 funk trousers*

Avatar Proto-Papples

I’ve been digging around my old boxes of nonsense again because new content doesn’t find itself and bringing old things you’ve forgotten about back into the light is a good process. Right?

FYI, expect more of this over the next month or two.

This page was lurking at the front of one of the many notebooks I used to keep. It definitely wasn’t the genesis of the name ‘Papples’ because Chris and I definitely came up with that when I was visiting and we tossed off the idea of continuing the music making antics of The Office and recording an album. I must have been musing on the mythos, considering the chumblies and trying to develop a chart for people who didn’t quite understand.

It takes a while to comprehend both the genius of the name and the music of The Papples.

I’m not entirely sure why I was developing a gun of sorts to turn good apples to pap apples, then again I am an inventor so it must have come naturally (?). Let’s go with that.

Avatar One from the Archives – ‘You Don’t Weep’

(A cynical young man sits at a table judging, that’s you (Kevin), and two men walk past).

Chris: Look at that cynical young man there.
Ian: What’s he doing?

(Intense close-up of your (Kevin’s) face)

Chris: He’s judging fruit because even though it carries qualities that can assist with a sexy, varied diet, too much can still mess with your face podge.
Ian: Oh, THAT!
Chris: STOP JUDGING FRUIT, INFANT!
Kev: Leave me alone, let me judge in peace.
Ian: But don’t you realise that fruit doesn’t mean you any harm? It doesn’t have a hidden agenda.
Chris: It’s not out to get you.
Kev: I don’t care! Not enough people *cannot read what the bottom line says due to bad photocopying*
Ian: Look at the beauty of that lemon! It’s perfectly cylindrical, it’s smoothness, it’s balance of danger and sweetness. Doesn’t it make you want to…
Kev: CRY? No. NEVER!
Chris: Surely it must, sir. You are no golem.
Kev: No. I never cry.

(Shock horror: SEVERE GASP)

Ian: He doesn’t cry.
Chris: This imbalance will be bad, awful, awful bad.
Ian: Care to explain with the use of this delicate pulley system?
Chris: No. Follow me.

(Ian and Chris walk offscreen to a white board)

*Presumably Chris is talking* Man. Man doesn’t want to cry but he does. He has to or this happens.

(An explosion goes off)

Ian: What was that?
Chris: That’s what happens when you try to fuck with nature.
Ian: Oooooooooooooooooooooooo.
Chris: To put it like this, if man does not cry, the emotional chumblies vibrate and vibrate. If liquid is not spilt then they catch fire and the whole body explodes.
Ian: Science is mean!
Chris: It sure is, Timmy.
Ian: It’s Ian.
Chris: Okay.

(Back to Kevin) (?)

Ian: So this man needs to cry.
Chris: Exactly.
Ian: So how do we do that?
Chris: If science can cause a perfectly healthy individual to explode then science can also be harnessed for good.
Ian: Holy pickles!
Chris: What we need is…

(Quick shots: plunger, onions, copy of the film ‘Steel Magnolias’)

Then all we need to do is…

(Chris plungers the side of Kev’s head, then he rubs onions into his eyes, lastly he shows him a copy of ‘Steel Magnolias’ on the telly)

Ian: It sounds easy.
Chris: It’s already done (close up of Chris) Romeo Dunne.

(The cynical man is sat crying at his table)

Chris: Oh dear.
Ian: What’s wrong with him?
Chris: It appears as though the science was too much for him. He’s been turned into a jibbering idiot.
Ian: Is that why he’s sat crying over some knives?
Kev: (between sobs) They just… don’t get the same respect… as forks. It’s so upsetting.
Chris: We may need to think about this some more. He’s gone from one extreme to the other. I expect if you hold anything up in front of him he’ll cry even harder.

(Ian holds up a yo-yo, Kev weeps harder)

Ian You were right.
Chris: We need MORE SCIENCE!

(Quick shots: plunger, iron pipes, a copy of ‘Universal Solider’)

Chris plungers back tough back (?) into Kevin’s head, sticks the pipes down his back).

Chris: Not too much ‘Universal Solider’, Timmy, we don’t want him as cynical as he was before.
Ian: Ten four.

(Kev sits at a table)

Ian: How do you feel?
Kev: I’m not sure. I’m a little teary (pulls a face) but I’m also extremely pissed off at this Kinder Egg. The toy on it is crap.
Ian: Is that a result?
Chris: I guess it’ll have to do!

(Both Ian and Chris freeze in mid-hearty chuckle. Kev falls off his chair)

EPILOGUE

Chris: Crying is perfectly natural. Everyone does it, even pigeons and wolverines. They don’t do it in public but hidden behind those bushes and up on those high buildings they are bawling like bitches.
Ian: Here’s a tip, cry into a towel. It muffles the noise and catches the excess, thus removing the need for tissues.
Chris: Thank you, Timmy.
Ian: How often do you cry, sir?

(close-up of Chris’ face)

Chris: TWICE A DAY. THAT’S WHAT I SAY!

END!

Avatar Obligations

I’m a man of my word and let nobody say otherwise (unless it’s me stating I’m going to get new tyres for my car because I keep saying it and I still haven’t done it yet). It’s this simple principle that I stick to in order for people to believe and trust me as their brother, boyfriend, friend or tree surgeon.

When I recently returned home to visit family, my brother surprised me with the admission that they had been round the charity shops and my nieces had bought some video games for me. A lovely gesture, or course, and one which didn’t initially fill me with a sense of dread. It was only when I remembered the quality of video games available in charity shops that my stomach turned upside-down and inside-out: previous years FIFA games, cricket and other lame sports titles, shovelware Nintendo Wii games where the quality is the same as my arse.

I was handed four Nintendo DS titles and, boy, am I a lucky person. Four excellent condition clangers for my collection. I am not a snob, dear reader, for as the keen chef can tell the good fruit from the bad fruit I can let you know mostly what a good game is and what isn’t. This stack was given to me to review by my brother and that is exactly what I am going to do. I certainly don’t want to play them and you certainly don’t want to read what I have to say, yet this is how it’s going down.

It was either that or trade them in for 40p.

Avatar Growing on

Guys, there comes a time when it’s time to move on. It’s time to grow up. You have a choice: you can grow up, move on, move up or you can grow on. I have chosen to grow on.

During lockdown 1.0, to keep my spirits up and add a little structure to the meaningless days of worrying where i would buy rice, pasta and toilet paper from, I drew a drawing of something every day. It was usually some cartoon from my childhood or things Reuben and I would watch when he was younger. It was fun to begin with, I would put some music on and spend an hour drafting whatever that came to mind.

Four years have now passed. Whilst I am proud of my graphical efforts, some of the corners have started curling and the ones closest to the windows have faded due to sun damage. They’re not the vibrant illustrations they once were. I keep noticing the errors I made too, such as the extra line on the side of Dangermouse’s face, the awful hands of Steven Universe’s dad and the terrible pencil effects for Kermit the Frog. It is time to take them down and send them to the great recycling unit in the sky.

I will be keeping some of my favourites. The rest will be on sale at Sotheby’s in May. Bidding for each starts at £30,000 and plenty of interest has already been noted so you may want to register your own as soon as you can. Each one will be personally signed and framed by myself, and come with a free signed first edition of my new book, ‘Mind sorting: are you the you-est you that ever was?’ Available in stores now.

Avatar Expert analysis

… and in the end we had to chuck the fridge and finish the race in second place. I think it was worth it overall, especially considering the state of the floor.

Well, I can’t you lovely people here all night. I would like to thank you all for coming and listening. It’s not often that I get to speak on such a specialised topic, especially for a large group of people. We all need to remember that being an expert doesn’t always required three degrees and ten thousand hours of practise, sometimes it can be done without knowing, unwittingly even.

I trust you will take my words to heart and carry forth the message to those who couldn’t make it. There’s a plain black joggers wearing people in all of us. Thank you and goodnight!

Avatar ‘Lord Winklebottom Investigates’ – mini review

Pip pip! Tip top! Absolutely, old boy. Bally tally ho!

After playing ‘Lord Winklebottom Investigates’ I can safely say that whilst I will never be a posho, I can talk like them if I need to. You may remember that back in May of last year I made a post here explaining how excited I was to play an adventure game featuring a Sherlock Holmes-esque giraffe detective. I have since purchased the game and played through it so here is my review in case you were still sitting on the fence.

It’s a great game. If you’ve ever played a point and click game then you will be very familiar with the user interface. You move the curser around the screen and it will show items of interest. You can look at the item and some you are able to pick up to place in your inventory, which appears at the bottom of the screen when the curser gets near it. Your job is to use the things around you to solve the puzzles you come across. Sometimes it’s a matter of putting two items together and sometimes it requires listening carefully to what the characters are telling you and using a bit of the ole’ imagination pipes.

The story, without spoiling too much, takes you away as Lord Winklebottom to a mysterious island to meet up with an old friend and along for the ride is his good colleague, Dr Frumple. When you arrive you unfortunately discover said friend has died under mysterious circumstances and it’s up to you to work out which of the colourful characters inhabiting his mansion were responsible. You’ll need to speak to everyone to make notes of their relationship to the deceased and their reasons for being there. There is a handy notebook which automatically records certain things that comes up in conversation so you can look back on them if needs be.

Everything about this game is ridiculous and I wouldn’t want it any other way. The dialogue is very funny at times, mainly due to Dr Frumple who is the best character in the entire thing. His innate Britishness seeps into every conversation and he never NEVER puts his cup of tea down. At one point I tried to take the toilet paper and he refused to do so on the grounds that it just wasn’t on. The graphics fit the narrative and atmosphere as you’d expect them to. You can’t half arse this kind of thing, it’s balls deep or nothing. The only part that was a little disatisfying was the music which lingered in the background not really doing much. Perhaps it was doing something however I can’t remember any of it.

It’s not the hardest game in the world. You won’t come across anything as difficult as the ‘goat puzzle’ from Broken Sword: The Shadow of the Templars or practically everything from Grim Fandango. There was only one part where I needed to soak up some grease from a pan (don’t ask, no spoilers) that took me a little longer than expected and even then the answer was staring me in the face the entire time. I managed to finish it in under five hours and what a five hours they were. I had to wait for a price reduction as thirty squids for a game this short wouldn’t sit well with me. If you can find it for anything under a tenner then I would say go for it, old bean!

Avatar ABOFB 33: Disappointing Things

After only 9 months since the last episode, and because Ian made me feel bad for that fact, here comes episode 33!
I’ve dredged out from the lockdown archives this gem, where we discuss:

  • Gigs
  • Gruff Rhys
  • Ignoring the question
  • Food