Halloween Review Special: Videos Galore

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

Now you may have seen that in the past I've done video game videos alongside HaxMonster, in addition to help with his channel I've also done a number of video reviews but not all of them make it as blog posts here.
So today I'm gathering all the brain munching, apocalypse surviving videos I've made for a Halloween special.

To start here is my review of OMG Zombies by Laughing Jackal LTD, name aside its rather decent.  

 My somewhat abruptly ended Lets Play of Organ Trail and HaxMonsters own attempt:


Finally to end on a positive note we have the Halloween update for Bardbarian.

Fancy a more traditional post? Check out Pumpkin Carving here.

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Simbrix: A curious hybrid of Lego, Jigsaws and Hama Beads

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , ,

Having the fortune to head down to the Gamecity events in Nottingham with the lovely lady of Buzy Bobbins we found ourselves surprised by just how packed the lobby for the National Video Games Gallery was that day, one of the main culprits was this little stall run by Assim Ishaque the founder and inventor of Simbrix.

My first sight of Simbrix

Now I must confess that at first glance through the crowd of children I mistook them for Hama beads but over hearing some parents talking to who I now know to be Mr Ishaque caught my attention, these were not bored parents waiting at the stall they were joining in and having just as much fun often enquiring about the stall.
My interest peaked I squeeze through the crowd to examine the table to suddenly find myself offered a fist full of the Simbrix to keep by Mr Ishaque, respectfully declining (my pockets already rather full at the time) I did manage to have a rather improvised interview with Mr Ishaque while examining the Simbrix.

 You can tell that the chaps at the National Video Games Gallery got their hands on these right away.

It seems that Mr Ishaque got the initial idea for Simbrix when his daughter became very fond of Hama beads, the Hama beads often got lost or patterns scattered at a slight knock and often his children got bored of old projects which had been ironed and needed to purchase more beads for new ones. 
Wishing that the beads were reusable and easier to use in general Mr Ishaque began designing his own which after 400 prototype designs that experimented with different materials and shapes that could interlock over the last 2 years.

Earlier this year Mr Ishaque actually managed to get some local support for the project and appeared in Toy news, the Nottingham Post and BBC Radio Nottingham as well as attempting to fund the project on Kickstarter, unfortunately this drive failed but undeterred his team continued to improve the Simbrix and tried again.
 This new Kickstarter has not only succeeded but at the time of writing has hit 216% of its goal and still the Simbrix are been improved, the Kickstarter continues until the 11th of November 2015 so I recommend getting in and grabbing the Simbrix at a discount price early. I recommend reading the Kickstarter anyway as it contains a lot of history and background into this 2 year project and is quite interesting.

Now I've given you the background lets get into the juicy details of the bricks themselves.

The Simbrix are slightly larger that Hama beads, are considerably thicker and lock together in a similar way to a jigsaw but also they can be iron like Hama beads for a permanent connection.
These differences do mean that many completed projects will be larger in size than if they were made in Hama but they are far less brittle if ironed, this increase in size also means its easer for older people and those with large fingers to use them.

 Simbrix figures on the left while Professor Layton is in Hama

The locking design is a great measure of improvement over Hama Beads in the fact that tweezers and pegboards are not require, the structures are robust enough that ironing is optional so kids can be left to play with them unattended (though their small size means they are not suitable for very young children who may swallow them).  

The locking design has been improved since I last tried them, the Simbrixs I used seemed rather sturdy but they came apart easily if pressure was applied correctly, apparently some colours of that run has issues (I noticed the pink tended to slip and didn't hold well) but they have been solved and here is a glimpse of the improvements.

 Apparently this new batch is the first time the entire colour pallet has held together so well and  has been put through a series of tests including the connection and disconnection of parts, a drop test, been thrown, been used as a frisbee and bending. In addition there are now glow in the dark Simbrix as well.

The astute amongst you may notice that that there are only 18 colours in the picture above and that is where Simbrix is currently lagging, Hama Beads are available in over 50 different colours meaning that you can get greater degrees of accuracy and shading however as Simbrix Develop I imagine their available pallet will expand in time.

Also bead for brix Simbrix are a more expensive initial purchase at the beginning however their re-usability and the lack of tools/supervision needed to use them means that in the long run (if you are not ironing them) they actually are cheaper. The Simbrix are also neutral in design giving more creative freedom whilst Hama Beads are often bought in box sets around a theme.  

 Simbrix and Hama Bead creations line the Toast Bar of the Nation Video Games Gallery

In short I rather like them, they seem like a natural evolution of Hama Beads, while if I wanted to do fine artwork I'd go for Hama beads I would definitely consider Simbrix as a more fun and cheaper option.  

Want to know more?
Buzy Bobbins gives a crafter's perspective on Simbrix in their article.

Go to Simbrix directly through:
Never heard of the Nottingham National Video Games Gallery check it out here. 

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A day at Frequency 2015

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , ,

While not in the best of health I took a trip into Lincoln city centre with some friends on the 25th after hearing about the Frequency Festival, this is the third Frequency event and will be running until the 1st of November. 

If you are unfamiliar with the Frequency Festival it is a mixture of unusual art exhibitions, interactive performances, and workshops, each festival has a different theme and this year it is Liberation.

I've never had the chance to attend the past events due to other engagements so even in my ill state I was eager to explore what was on offer.
Now there are over 30 events occurring over the next week so I'm going to boil this list down to a few of my favourites.


co_LAB is the Collaboration Laboratory Research Network at the University of Lincoln and in their own words " bringing together people from different fields, disciplines and contexts to collaborate on innovative trans-media projects."
Now this is more of a series of activities than the traditional art that makes up the Frequency Festival
the first activity is called Blind Data and was one of most thought producing events to myself.

In Blind Date you are given a choice of several files each containing portfolio's of three individuals, these portfolios have within them the same sort of information that the NSA would be able to collect on each person. Examples include search terms, email keywords, illegal activity and recent purchases and from this information you have to decide who if any you would investigate further. 
It is an interesting thought study and the students running the stall in the Waterside Centre are eager to hear feedback from participants. I have also been advised that anyone who tries this should look up information about PRISM to learn more.   

Caught In The Web was unfortunately not available during my trip as someone accidentally deleted the program but the students pulled an all nighter and managed to remake the experience using the last build they had created so should be available for everyone. This Oculus Rift virtual experience aims to challenge public apathy towards the mass surveillance of our digital lives by creating a 3D web browser and exploring the history of the internet. You can watch the developments that changed the digital world and the restrictions which increasingly limit the online experience.

The third event by co_labs is WWW25 which is a serious piece that in effect is a simple concept: What is the internet you want?

Statements would come up on the display screen some serious..

Some not so serious and well thought out...

Each orb grew with its total number of votes and I believe there was some significance to their location but unfortunately I didn't get the chance to enquire.
These were the votes when I last checked:

James Brown

Another interactive experience is James Brown's Taphobos: An Immersive Coffin Experience.
This 2 person experience is a virtual reality scenario of been buried alive, running out of oxygen and the only hope of escape is to work together with a complete stranger. Using clues from their surroundings the person in the coffin needs to relay information to the other person who uses this information to figure out the location of the coffin.

Nick Driftwood

The Road was a surprisingly calming visual experience, this was long clips of travel across various roads of America and through it I could understand the appeal of various motorcycle groups and road trips and the feeling of freedom and wonder the open road could have. This may not have been exactly what the artist was trying to convey but it was my personal experience of it.

The Stan Project

Pynchon's Wall seems to give me mixed feelings personally, on casual observation it is slow, dull and unattractive but under the right circumstance it comes alive. The various panels of the wall react to certain keywords that when tweeted cause them to move.

Shun Ito

Cosmic Birds impresses on a number of levels, whilst a simple concept it is visually interesting not just from the light show produced by the controlled falling and movement of the various parts but also on a mechanical level as the full working of each machine are on display.


This was a small side piece but I found it both thought provoking and a statement on our usual laziness and just how easily people will sign rights away without realising it.
Presented as a "free" Iphone charge station it gives you instructions on how to use it and by doing so you agree to the terms and conditions.

Presented in its glass case it is immediately obvious to someone with a hint of computer awareness or those who are genre savvy about the reoccurring themes that this is no simple charger.

The terms and conditions written on the glass explain (without going into too much legal jargon) that by using the charger you are allowing the charger owners to download all pictures from your phone, have total rights to them and that they can distribute them at will. I suddenly realised the connection with the projection on the wall behind and that these were all photos taken from peoples phones who had used the chargers without reading first.


In spite of the strange name Squidsoup has produced a beautiful and memorable piece again simple but hugely effective. The piece called Enlightenment is a walk-through array of responsive LED lights these lights ripple and change colour each person entering a pebble in the pond so to speak.

Finally if you do go please take 5 minutes to fill in the feedback form at one of the events, this helps the festival grow and gain funding for the future.

To learn more see the Frequency Schedule and Venues.
If you would like to read more experiences the Lincolnshire Echo chosen their top things to see, reactions to the event and a gallery of photos.

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Guest Poster: Hax Monster revisits an old favourite Killer7

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,

In spite of the fact that you probably never have heard of it, I am not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that, for me, Killer7 is the best game ever made. Better than anything ever designed before and after. To illustrate how highly I think about Killer7 it deserves mentioning that my former best game ever was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim. Amazing as that game still is, it’s outstanding quality seems mere child’s play when compared to the rollercoaster of an experience that Killer7 provided me with.

However, the game has slipped by the majority of gamers unnoticed. It came out in 2005 on the Gamecube and was later ported to Playstation 2. Developed by Grasshopper and published by Capcom, Killer7’s directors were Shinji Mikami, who had already made a name for himself with Resident Evil and Devil May Cry, and Goichi Suda, who later became a well-known game auteur known as Suda 51. Suda’s fans will know Killer7 as the game with which he genuinely made his reputation, especially in Europe and the US and although back in 2005 Shinji Mikami was the only one mentioned on the back of the box, it would forever be remembered as Suda’s personal masterpiece. And although I had little idea what I was in for when I bought it, the term ‘masterpiece’ quickly seemed an understatement.

Although Killer7 earns almost all it’s stripes in the story department, I won’t get into that until the end of this review as this is a highly spoiler-sensitive game. As understanding the plot largely hinges on player interpretation, it is very well possible that basic elements of the plot are only understood at the end, so even saying what the plot is about can ruin the experience for you. Therefore, I will first talk you through the gameplay. Killer7 is at heart a railshooter with puzzles. However, the term ‘railshooter’ shouldn’t go unqualified here. You can only move along rails and you shoot from a first-person perspective, like you would in other railshooters, but you are able to freely move your character up and down this rail at any time. The camera normally is in third-person mode, but if you hold the button to aim your gun you switch to first-person mode. You hold another button to move forward and press a third one to turn. You can also decide which way to go at some intersections, where you move your analog stick to select a path to take. It is always clear when enemies are around, as they are announced by the sound of laughter. During the game you can switch between a maximum of seven very different characters, all with their own weapons and special abilities. All of these characters can be upgraded with a basic upgrade system. Upgrades and puzzle hints are purchased with so-called ‘thin blood’. There is also ‘thick blood’ which can heal your characters and can power some character’s special powers. Both are acquired by killing enemies. Beyond on-rails shooting there are the aforementioned puzzles, which are quite unusual in their appearance but which generally are not too challenging. Often they require you to get a key-like item from elsewhere in the level, or they require you to simply use a certain character’s special ability. These special abilities are all aimed towards making the way on through the level accessible and using them for puzzles is usually no more complicated than recognising which character’s ability is required, selecting that character, and pressing the ‘special ability’ button.

Levels usually follow a pretty similar structure. You can move about freely from the word go and can backtrack as far as you want at any time. There are multiple puzzles scattered across the level and inbetween them you will find constantly respawning groups of enemies: origami-like invisible exploding giggling monsters named ‘heaven smile’ which only become visible when you press a button. The central idea for each level is that you collect all so-called ‘soul shells’, which are often found at the end of puzzles. Then, at the end of the level, you need to pay those shells to be granted access to a kind of sub-bossfight with a special enemy. Once you enter this fight, you can’t return. Once you are victorious you may continue to the last part of the level where usually the biggest plot-relevant things happen after which there is usually a bossfight. Sometimes the game takes two connected stages, both structured like this, and calls it one level. Mind that I am leaving a few details on this level structure out, because mentioning some things can already be seen as a spoiler.

Realize that Killer7’s gameplay is almost always easy as hell. Like I mentioned, enemies are always announced by laughter, so you will never be surprised by them. You also are provided with auto-lock on, which is especially overpowered when you upgrade the lock-on so much that it targets enemies’ critical spots which give you an instant-kill when hit. Although, on the Gamecube version, auto-lock is less of a luxury and more a necessity as the Gamecube’s analog stick is a complete nightmare if you need to do precise aiming and some bossfights certainly demand spot-on accuracy. This, beside the fact that the game was amazing in general, is a reason why a PC-port would still be a good idea. But generally, aiming is a piece of cake. And the other pillar that gameplay rests on, puzzling, is no problem either. You can always use thick blood to buy the solution to a puzzle and you are always given a free hint if you want. But often a hint isn’t needed because you only need the aforementioned key to a door or the right character and their special ability.

But difficulty-wise, the story more than makes up for the gameplay. Besides being completely vague and abstract in general, the game is extremely scarce with explanation. Beyond some cutscenes most background information comes from characters, usually ghosts of the deceased, that you can talk to for information. Those ghosts are basically like audio logs in Bioshock in that they provide a lot of background information on what’s going on. However, I don’t think it would have been possible to have them talk more cryptic if all of them had been talking Arabic because they all seem to have turned whatever message they had for the player into some vague poetic text in which it is up to you to interpret their message. Cutscenes aren’t much clearer, because there is little exposition and people constantly throw complex and unclear terms around such as ‘Yakumo’. Nothing is ever explained and to have some grasp of what’s going on you have to digest every character’s words five times and remember everything that ever happened in the story with great detail. That is quite challenging, shown by the fact that there are plot explanations out there for Killer7 that are the size of small novels. But in a way there’s a certain beauty to that all. Let me compare it to London’s tower bridge. For touristic purposes an elevator was built in the towers. A tower bridge with an elevator is like a game that explains all of it’s plot explicitly so that players stay engaged. After all, a developer wants his plot to be understood so that his game will appeal to a wide audience, just like how an elevator makes a monument more accessible, ensuring that more people will visit it. However, this elevator is no part of the monument and in that way slightly tampers with it’s purity, so to speak. Killer7 is more like a tower bridge without an elevator. There is only plot and nothing that is meant to make the story more easily understood is in the way of the plot’s inherent beauty. That also shows how little financial motives there were for creating Killer7. This is not everyone’s kind of game and, thank goodness, no-one at Capcom or Grasshopper tried to turn this into an everyman’s game just to increase the target audience to make profit.

I just want to tell you some more about the story’s actual content and as telling you even a little bit about the story is immediately an immense spoiler, this entire paragraph contains enormous spoilers. Essentially, one might divide events in Killer7 up into three levels: a divine level, a worldly level and an individual level. Events on every level have consequences for the levels below it. The ‘highest’ level is the divine level, where a battle between the devil of the east, Kun Lan, and the god of the west, Harman Smith, takes place.
Their battle has been going on for all of eternity and is fought through their direct actions on earth or the actions of their agents on earth. This battle can be extended to the events on the worldly level of Killer7, which focuses on a Japanese conspiracy to control the US and the US’s battle against the Heaven Smile, which have become the main terrorist threat in the alternate-history universe of Killer7. As Harman Smith is the god of the west and as Kun lan is in control of Japan and is the creator of the Heaven smile, these events are the earthly manifestations of their eternal struggle. Then there is the personal level, which revolves around a man named Harman Smith, who is not the god of the west of the same name, but an assassin in service of the US who can manifest himself as seven different assassins which are also the playable characters in the game. These seven are all quite different, but share their knowledge and act as one. There is Garcian Smith, a afro-American in a white suit who is a ‘cleaner’. He can revive the other assassins by collecting their bodies and is the only one who can directly talk to Harman Smith, his boss. Then there’s Dan Smith, an American, young, somewhat loud-mouthed assassin armed with a revolver. His special ability allows him to destroy monster spawners that block the way. Con smith is a young blind boy who can hear what others can’t and shoots with two pistols. Coyote smith is a south-American thief who can pick locks and jump over or onto obstacles. Mask de smith is a Mexican ex-wrestler who can move heavy obstacles out of the way and uses grenade launchers, that can also destroy weak walls. KAEDE smith, the only woman, can shoot blood out of her wrist to summon a demon that can make magical barriers disappear, a power that I for some reason don’t envy. Her pistol has a large scope which is never really a definite must but which you’ll really want to use for those accurate bossfights. Finally, there’s Kevin Smith, an albino that throws knives and can turn invisible to avoid security lasers. On all three levels of the plot the story deals with the relation between the east and the west, or, more specifically, Japan and the US.

You really don’t have to stop considering playing Killer7 when I say that the plot is complicated and sometimes completely incomprehensible, because the game has such a great atmosphere that simply being inside the Killer7 universe feels unique. The atmosphere is as great and mysterious as the game’s story and really brings across the exact feeling intended. A key way the atmosphere is brought across is in the graphics. Killer7 came out in 2005 and therefore had little processing power at it’s disposal. Luckily the game used this limitation to it’s advantage and chose a textureless, somewhat cartoony, sterile artstyle that is still nice to look at today but which could be handled by the consoles back in the day. Considering that the story is abstract and surreal, these abstract surreal graphics are really fitting. The dialog is amazing as well. Those dialog lines which were as comprehensible as listening to Arabic might not always be easy to follow, but they are certainly nice to listen to. Then there is the masterful soundtrack. Music-wise it’s nice to see that the developers grasped that you don’t use loud, exciting music for exciting cutscenes. On the contrary, you should use calm music because of that juxtaposing the intensity of a moment with non-intense music makes a way stronger impression. The voice acting in this game is seriously out of this world. Never have I seen more emotion in dialog lines than here. That’s all the more impressive considering that this was a low-profile release and not the kind of thing you’d hire million-dollar voice actors for. All of the above leads to a never-before seen level of immersion which you still get if the story makes no sense.

Although I still spend every waking moment praying that this game will be launched again on PC, I’m pretty sure my hope is in vain as Killer7 slipped a lot of people by unnoticed and wasn’t the kind of money-making machine the mainstream industry seems to love so much these days. Then again, back in 2005 there were almost no possibilities to launch a game besides consoles and the money one had to invest to make a console game meant that you did have to make something that appealed to a wide audience as you had a lot of money to make back. Now, however, with the rise of the indie-games market and the internet, there is a place for unusual games for smaller audiences and Killer7 would exactly fit that bill. Therefore, one would say that conditions for this masterpiece would be ideal today. The day I see Killer7 on the Steam sale page is the day I will download a million copies of it just to ensure Capcom will turn a profit on it, but until that day, I will at least still have a reason to pick up my Gamecube controller.

Want to see more of Hax Monsters work? Then check out his Youtube Channel.

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Chapter Master Update: Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 seeks a new Champion as Duke Retires from his works.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,

To say I wasn't expecting would be a lie but after the announcement of Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 I wasn't expecting it to come so soon. Duke has decided to retire from his work on Chapter Master/ Interstellar Army Simulator 2015 after 2 years, in his wake he has left us all the source code to his works as a base to continue them.

Here is the final message from the man himself explaining his reasons.

Greetings mortals,
This post will explain the future of Chapter Master, and how it will be returning to its roots.  First, context.
Making games has always been an avid hobby of mine.  Since the age of eight, or nine, I'd been press-ganging other students into testing games I had made.  The first one I can recall was back in elementary school, where the idea was to draw a not-Pokemon on a sheet of paper and then assign HEALTH and DAMAGE attributes.  You would then totally battle these two sheets of paper back-and-forth with the power of imagination.  There was tons of arguing involved.  Over the years I've homebrewed slightly more complex games, ranging from one of a thousand pen-and-paper RPG's to my more recent programming projects.
Three years back I'd been plugging away at a BroQuest demo- first a shoddy, primitive one, and then later a slightly more functional one that the original developers asked me not to post online.  I wanted something big to tackle to keep myself engaged.  Making things is one of my ways to keep sane, and since that turned out a dead end, I figured 'Why not Chapter Master?'.
Around this point I was still not a very good programmer (something I still believe), but had all the time in the world.  Right off the bat I loaded up the design document of the former Chapter Master project (a big old thing like 50 pages long), and began to take notes on what I would want to include from that.  Cue about ten months of piddling away at the keyboard and the alpha was more or less ready.  Releasing it was a blast- hundreds upon hundreds of posts of nothing but screams, panic, and stroking my ego.  Overall it was very amusing.  To this day, when I am bored, I will still go re-read old threads.  This same amusement is what kept me working on the project, and putting out updates, for many months.  Each major content patch I released would offer a new surge of activity, which would then continue to amuse me.  Hearing other's thoughts and suggestions also excited me, since many of them were way better than anything I could ever come up with myself.
To this day I've spent a little over two years working on the game.  Development was much faster at first, make no mistake- I was excited about releasing it, fueled by the amusement of others, and had few responsibilities.  As time went on my own enthusiasm waned, which meant less major updates, and then less people talking about or playing the game.  No longer was I gaining any amusement out of the project, or at least very little.  Getting donations for all of my games helped, but not too long after that development felt more like a chore than something awesome to waste my time on.  School and my part-time work hasn't helped at all.
Twice now I've taken a break from development, for several weeks at a time.  This was necessary to cool off and get a breather before resuming the trudge once more.  The final nail in the coffin, that killed any enjoyment I had left, was the recent scare.  I won't go into details on that, but I'd already been very burned out and needing a third break when it occurred.  This lead to me crunching on Chapter Master for two weeks straight, forgoing any contact outside of work or school to keep the game going- without it I'd have had to stop school, again, and focus on my other work.  That would not have been fun.
So here we are today.  I am going to be taking a moderate risk, but it's for the sake of my sanity.  Starting October I will no longer be developing Chapter Master.  In return, I will be open sourcing the project- all X lines of spaghetti code.  I only ask that you be aware that my programming skills have improved over time, and much of the abomination that is the games code is not an indication of my current ability (with GMS, at least).  I have enough funds saved up to go to school for a while, including financial aid, so I will continue perusing my dream of working on social/domestic robots.
It's worth mentioning I still enjoy making games way too much.  Chapter Master is not the last one you will see.  About half a year back I assembled a team of similar minded people to begin construction on Towergirls the vidya.  In a short while we should have a demo ready, and then we will begin accepting community writing for dialogue and plot.  This is a very, very nice change of pace and I hopefully won't get sued over it.
That sums up about everything.  Here are some links.
Interstellar Army Simulator 2015: Source Code
Chapter Master 0.6555: Source Code
Original Design Document (former project)
Original Original (I accidentally changed the permissions on the below link, it's not owned by me, I thought it was)
Features That Were Planned
It's been two monotonous but fun years that I wouldn't trade for anything.  The hopes and dreams for Chapter Master can live on in the community, where it started, and where it belongs.  With the source code any of you can continue development, or begin to pick it apart and move worthy bits on over to an actual programming language.  I hope this is the case- I'd love to see the game become the abomination that everyone wanted.
I will still be lurking and you should expect to see me when Towergirls the Demo goes live.
Until then, remember- you are all special snowflakes on the Emperor's front steps.


While some of you may feel disappointed I honestly think that Dukes reasons are fair and he has helped keep the spark alive of this project and its been somewhat inspirational, now we wait for another to take up the sword and who knows it could be any of you reading this now.  

Already others are moving, claims of those hiring programmers have appeared cleaning up the code and to someday add new features. Perhaps rather than a single Chapter Master a flurry of small projects will appear some succeeding, some failing, others combining together each taking us closer to the game we desire.

To play my own part I'm hosting backups of Dukes links and files which you can obtain below:

Interstellar Army Simulator 2015: Source Code: Link
Chapter Master 0.6555: Source Code: Link
Original Design Document (former project): Link
Features That Were Planned: Link

Don't know What Chapter Master is? The original review is here.
Just want to play the game? Then Interstellar Army Simulator and the mod and be downloaded here.

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Guest Post: Pokemon Cards Online Deck Rallying Cry Covered in depth by our local Pokemon Trainer, the Lovely Lady of Buzy Bobbins

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , , , ,

If you have read the post about our trip to EXG last month you may of seen that one of the free codes available was for a Pokemon Trading Cards Online deck, if you haven't read it yet I would recommend it but here is the code that was posted: 49H3-J2S8-VX21

This code unlocks the Rallying Cry theme deck which is a Pokemon Trading Cards Online exclusive and is not available as a physical pack.

This code is for use only once per account this will give you a copy of the deck and all cards within. It uses the standard card back and a red Arceus coin so doesn't add anything new for visual customisations.

This deck is comprised of water and normal type Pokemon and also contains a selection of Trainer cards which are generally useful for your own deck building, such as Cheren which allows you to draw extra cards and the Switch card which allows the player to switch out their active Pokemon freely.

The main aim when playing with this deck to to build up the bench with Pokemon who have the Round attack. The unique thing about this attack is that it gets more powerful with each Pokemon in play with it.
For example Wigglytuff does 20 damage times the number of Pokemon with Round in play.
The Exploud in this deck does 50 damage per Pokemon in play with the round attack while this maxes out at an impressive 250 damage enough to neutralise any Pokemon card your opponent may have. However only having two Pokemon on the bench with Round this Pokemon can still output 150 damage per attack which deals with almost everything apart from strong legendary Pokemon/ Pokemon EX cards.

A decent strategy with this deck is to use kangaskhan and its call for family attack to start filling the bench quickly while using its high hit points to absorb damage. Alternately Chatot can be used to stall the opponent by causing confusion with its Tone deaf attack.

This should leave you with enough time to build up the bench full of Pokemon with Round. However if you are unable to do this the Wigglytuff also has Hypnoblast which deals 60 damage and has a chance of causing sleep. This attack really has helped to to neutralise some fairly serious threats with a little luck on the coin flips to make or keep the enemy asleep.

The one downside of this deck is that there is no single card able to deal high damage by itself so without the set up of other Pokemon on your bench the match may become difficult. Particularly if your opponent has a strategy which damages the benched Pokemon making it difficult to get them out to evolve. At this point my only resort is to use Chatot, Wiggytuff or Jigglypuff to hopefully get a status effect on the opponents active Pokemon to lower its threat if its not possible to deal the damage to take it out quick enough.

Finally once you have been playing with this deck in versus battles for a while you may want to change a few of the cards to customise it. There isn't too many substitutions that can be made without changing the focus of the deck away from building up the bench for the round attacks from Loudred and Wigglytuff.

An easy substitution is to change the Meowth/Chatot in the deck for a stronger basic Pokemon card. The purpose of the Meowth/Chatot in this deck is to help stall for time while you add energy/ evolution cards to your bench. 
However it is possible to get basic Pokemon with more HP and attacks which aid stalling.

For example:
Bouffalant From the Dragons Exalted expansion
This can be found in the Basic Green deck obtained from the trainer challenge so the easiest to get.
With 100 HP and the Bouffler special ability reducing incoming damage this card is really effective at stalling.
Alternatively you could use this as an opportunity to use a water type Pokemon Ex for this purpose or if you have an Articuno/ Kyogre the high HP will help stall and they can deal high damage on their own if the rest of the deck is not yet set up.

Trainer card substitutions

For a deck which needs the bench to be set up with evolved Pokemon it is surprising that there are only two cards (Level ball) which allow searching for Pokemon. A worthy addition to this deck would be the Wally supporter card makes it easier to get to the first and second stage Pokemon which have the Round ability particularly after using kangaskhan to fill the bench with Basic Pokemon.

Personally I would trade out the two Ether Trainer cards. The Ether card attaches an energy card to a Pokemon in play only if the top card on your deck is a basic energy card. Without any ability to stack the top of the deck this approach is down to luck at best. Perhaps other players have much better luck with this than I do but I find the use of this card rarely if ever works out for me and isn't to be relied on.

Finally if a single Rallying Cry is not enough for you and you would like to obtain more copies of the cards for deck building you can find more codes on the Bulbapedia page here.
 If you'd like to see more Pokemon themed posts various craft posts are available over at Buzy Bobbins which this month is creating Pokemon baubles.

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First Impressions: Ice Water Game moment of peace and quiet Viridi

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , ,

Continuing my delving into the available free games advertised on Steam I encountered Viridi a small simulation game created by Ice Water Games and released August 2015. This is Ice Water Games second game on Steam, the other been Eidolon which has mixed reviews and was released the previous year.

Using the term loosely the goal of Viridi is to grow a number of succulents plants  however the true aim of the game seems to as a relaxation aid with calming music and cute cell shaded visuals.
Thinking this might be a fun little distraction I decided to give it a try and recorded my first impressions which you watch below: 

Feeling that my initial impressions may of been possibly somewhat harsh I decided to look through the steam community to see if I was justified in my frustrations. With permission I have posted the review of [GC]SpiritWolf below who describes very well the mixed feelings that many users have about Viridi

Once again I feel like I require a mixed recommendation, because while I feel that this is a really quaint little thing, certain details just make it a mild annoyance for me personally. Viridi is also quite difficult to write about due to the very little content it possesses.

Basic Overview: There isn't much to the core of the game, it's basically just a plant simulator where you nurture a small pot of succulents that grow in real time. You water them, sing to them (also the snail) and watch them grow. Released by Ice Water games as their latest creation.

You're launched into the game with nothing more than a start button, you then choose the decorative pot, the first few starting succulents and name it whatever you wish, after this.. You simply watch plants grow.

Pros: Cute,, minimalistic, relaxing, quaint, easy to have in the background and to just check on it every so often, cute snail. It's nice to de-stress for a brief period of time
Cons: There's not tutorial, no restart if you do something wrong, any additional seeds are micro-transactions within the game (Or you wait a week to get a free seedling from the nursery), the click box for selection of the plants is right next to a delete button which in turn leads to many accidental killing of plants - Even plants brought with real money and finally the erratic camera controls that flick you from one side of the pot to the other when something is selected.

Final conclusion: Honestly, you have nothing to lose by trying it except a few minutes of your time and very minimal hard drive space. I praise the effort and ideas that have obviously gone into it and have a mild whine about the little things that could easily be improved to make this far more enjoyable. It is however exactly what it claims to be; A relaxing oasis to run in the background or a quiet space when you need something simple to get your mind off things.

I hope you've all found this post informative and very much recommend having a browse through [GS]SpiritWolf's other reviews which are all concise and informative.   

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