VVVVVV

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Did you notice that June only had two weeks this year? Weird.

V for Vendetta 8-bit is a side-scrolling puzzle platformer by Terry Cavanagh, with music by Magnus Pålsson (SoulEye) in which a ship and its crew of six get stranded in a strange dimension. As Captain Viridian, you have to find the remaining crew and figure out how to leave. The catch is that, unlike most platformers, you can’t jump. Instead, you flip gravity’s pull. It may sound simple at first, but Mr. Cavanagh made sure that no hair on your head will be left intact.

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You better be

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The challenges in The Vagina Vovologues are akin to a vicious trip within the mind of an insane genius on a budget, and I’ll be impaled repeatedly on spikes if it isn’t rewarding. There are no lives, only checkpoints from which you will spawn after your billionth attempt at crossing any particular screen of this gravitic mindfuck. The only collectibles in the game are concentric circles called Shiny Trinkets, of which the collection I haven’t been able to complete because of THAT ONE. You know exactly what I’m talking about, Terry, and I hate you. I hate you so much I could kiss you. I don’t even know you, but rest assured, I hate you with the force of a thousand Volvos.

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AAAAAAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHHHH!!

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Little is said about whoever was in charge of this strange dimension, and I’d rather you find about the details yourself. There is a surprising amount of atmosphere for a game made with such scarce resources, which is quite a feat. The map is divided into many different areas, each of them a fixed screen. Teleporters exist to take you to areas that would be otherwise inaccessible, as well as to shorten the trips between places you might want to explore again. There is also a level editor for those who might feel like they can make things even more maddening than they already are.

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… but I’m on the pill, and the restrooms are vacant.

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I can’t find a single thing wrong with Vampire Vultures Vicariously Vivisecting Voltaire’s Vulva. The controls are great, it’s challenging at all times, it’s full of little secrets and details despite its simple appearance, and Mr. Pålsson’s music is not only fitting, but fiendishly addictive. The whole game is just right in every aspect, and I heartily recommend it.

10/10

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Liitmeis

Bomberman Noir is a top-down action puzzle game by Team Li… Lei… Lee… Litmy… these guys, in which a shady-looking neon fellow intends to escape a collapsed mine the American way: By planting sticks of dynamite everywhere until the problem is solved. It seems simple at first, but trust me, there are things within those walls you don’t want to set free.

Such as the common stoner.

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You have an infinite stock of dynamite, but you start conditioned by the reach of their explosion and the number of sticks you can plant at the same time. Soon, shopkeepers become available for you to buy upgrades from, such as a miracle-cure sandwich.

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Is that sign drawing a landscape?

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I find little to say about Dick Tracy Buried Alive, other than it is a well-balanced game that succeeds at giving you that little spark of competitive anger after a neon dragon has dismembered you to bits for the tenth time. The strategy is similar to Bomberman, except the environment keeps you a bit on edge and requires a tad more forethought, but not too much. You definitely don’t want to bomb a wall that contains an invincible self-replicating flesh-eating fungus, for example, but if you feel like doing a mad dash for the exit, by all means, plant dynamite until you’re either surrounded by gold or monsters.

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I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say that I’ll soon be out of limbs.

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The levels are randomly generated, which by this time is probably to be expected of every game on the planet that happens to be made of levels. The fact that Eat Fruits allows you to plan your own plan, if you will, is probably its strongest asset. Its simple premise would get tiresome too soon if not for the fact that there is no wrong way of playing it. Awake sleeping monstrosities to kill for gold, or play it safe and spend hours hacking away at bedrock to ensure your passage remains unnoticed (you know, with dynamite).

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Be vewy vewy qu- Is that PONG?

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Speaking of tiresome, let’s talk about the music. Darkneth Ith Coming features the first children’s choir I’ve ever heard with a generalized lisp, and 90% of the levels had that very same track playing over and over and over again. I got that “darkneth ith coming,” if that’s what they’re singing. Did you lock front-toothless kids in a basement to record that single line? Granted, I didn’t get to world 2 out of pure (healthy) frustration, but if a couple of levels in world 1 already had a different theme, I would say you need more music in your soundtrack, or at least some balance in what music you attribute to which levels. This would be way less noticeable if the game had sound effects at all. The only thing you will ever hear during gameplay is the music, and that will draw even more attention to a soundtrack that isn’t discrete enough to compensate for its limitations.

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Dear diary: JACKPOT

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Audio flaws aside, Bombersnake remains a simple, yet solid game. Works as advertised, does what it says it does, play like it says it plays. Besides singleplayer, it features a co-op multiplayer mode, and a custom level creator in which you can set various parameters, say, map size, percentage of specific blocks to appear, presence or absence of a merchant, abrupt ending of a review, etc.

6/10

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SSTTP: Splice

Now you can insult the church and rape nature at the same time from the comfort of your home. How cool is that?

Dr. Mario VS God is a puzzle game by Cipher Prime in which you have a limited amount of moves to splice cells in order to meet a predetermined pattern.

That’s it, really.

The puzzles get harder and harder, while some new cells appear that react differently to every splicing action. It’s a pretty comfortable puzzler, actually, since you can scroll back and forward in time from the last place you screwed up. With all its sleekness and relaxing environment, you’d think this is a pretty laid back game.

Well, it isn’t.

Cellbots, assemble!

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The logic of the splicing isn’t easy to get, and even when you do, the subsequent combination of results is as easy to predict as the weather on Mars. This splits the gameplay of My Little Mutation into careful thought patterns and I’ll keep wasting dead baby stem cells by screwing up over and over until I randomly get it right.

Dain Saint provides a soundtrack that is both fitting and cliché, reminding me of the more sober kind of genius-at-work montages. Pretty, enveloping, discretely ominous, but still a pain to have to rewind along with the game when you want to go back a move or two. I understand the effect, but if the music is supposed to help concentration by easing one’s mind into the game’s pace and tough challenges, making it WHURRZIP every time you need to undo something gets tiresome quite quickly.

6/10

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The Misadventures of P. B. Winterbottom

Waddaya know, it’s 2010! It’s the *reads from Wikipedia* international year of biodiversity (wat), Bin Laden’s still alive, kinda, possibly, some say, maybe not, but hey, poor Haiti and all that… Yup, 2010 indeed. Yes sir, the big twenty-ten, last time I’ll ever see those impossibly ugly double-0 glasses on puking beauties for ten years! I’ll drink to th- oh fine.

Yes, I’m late by more than two years, but you know what, it’s your fault for not telling me this existed. Whoever you are, you should have taken the earliest flight to my windowsill and yell “Hey! Winterbottom’s coming!”

Well, phrased like that, I’d probably mistake you for a drunken hobo, but the point I’m trying to make is that, once again, little jewels like this pass right by me, undetected by my sensitive behemoth of a nose.

Pie Bugger Winterbottom is a puzzle platformer by The Odd Gentlemen about a pie thief who cares for nothing but to sink his teeth and dip his nose into every such pastry he can find. He leads a carefree life until this freaky pie-hoe hybrid sends him back in time to correct his wrongdoings… by grabbing more pies. Yeah, I didn’t get it either, but the damn thing’s fun as hell. The little rhymes that make up the story between the puzzles are brilliantly simple, and even if some levels were too much for my tired noggin that I had to succumb to the walkthrough demons, it was all worth it to have the hints teach me the word “turdmuffin.”

I’m sorry, untouchable what?

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The first thing I was reminded of was Braid, but this managed to tread its own path quite well. Shorty McTopHat over there somehow acquires the ability to clone himself into looped actions, and you’re supposed to use this game mechanic in your favour. You can use them as platforms, pie fetchers, and even smack them across the place. At first I thought it would repeat the same formula over and over, but then I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that every set of areas relies on a different addition to/variation of the mechanic, which feels refreshing every time without having to learn something absolutely new. I value this, because it keeps the pace while stimulating the mind. I have nothing against complexity, but sometimes sticking to a formula while strategically enhancing its use is the best way to keep a game interesting.

There was a strangeness at first, because Piestuffer O’Shuttlenose III’s graphic style doesn’t seem to match the rest of the art, which, incidentally, reminds me of what would have happened if Charlie Chaplin and Tim Burton had coexisted and worked on something together. This feeling of oddity, oddly enough, disappeared once I started getting my head around the puzzles, of which the learning curve is shaped like a rollercoaster.

Tower of Pie-za. Har Har.

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Hats off every clone to David Stanton, for making a beautiful soundtrack and a main theme that got me seriously addicted. That’s it, really, I can’t say anything but “let’s listen again. And again. And again. And again. And again.”

In short, if you haven’t played Poor Bastard Winterbottom yet, do give it a try, if not, here’s your formal excuse:

If only I had known,

If I had been told,

This post would be news

Instead of just old.

8/10

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Otherworld – Spring of Shadows

Collector’s Edition, because I’m a fancy-pants bastard like that.

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I’m not a fan of point-and-clicks, but in spite of its kitschness this is the first one in a while that managed to keep me interested long enough to finish it, including the epilogue.

Otherworld – The Intricacies of Wool Working is a casual point-and-click puzzle-solving game by Boomzap. You can probably notice shitloads of similar games at their website, so why this one? Honestly, I don’t know. I let my fingers think for themselves, and this is where we got.

You start the game as a woman who just bought a house in the countryside and is greeted upon arrival by the worst cleanup job ever.

Incorporeal creatures make the worst maids.

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Long story short, a malevolent creature called I’ll Piss You Off Every Time You Click Too Much the Shade kidnapped a little girl named Alice Fiona whose parents also went missing. The girl appears in a mirror and asks for your help. Naturally, you forget all about your life plans and decide to help some random reflection defeat evil, suddenly and calmly accepting that there is another world parallel to our own in which locksmiths have a demented sense of humour in what concerns people’s free time.

Ceci n’est pas une lock.

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Otherworld – Now I Know How Stained Glass Is Made has three difficulty levels with progressively less hints on solving the puzzles, which vary between genuinely interesting brain teasers and I’ll just keep clicking until it solves itself. At one point, I was supposed to pour different substances into different containers without having any clue as to which went where. I soon realized that I could not drop the wrong substance in the wrong container. Ergo, I merrily clicked away on every container with every substance until the problem solved itself. I felt like a monkey solving one of those shapes-in-holes thingamabobs.

The final boss is the only timed puzzle, and yet even a retarded sloth could solve it. Granted, it’s a casual game, unless you decide to play hardcore mode and are then supposed to guess that to cut through some vines you must carefully analyze their length, girth, colour, general health, whether they overlap any other vines, if yes, how many, how’s the weather, who’s on first, and what the local Dryad thinks about the coming elections, because that’s how it goes in this “other world.”

Cleveland.

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What made Otherworld – That’s Not What a Flute Sounds Like enjoyable for me was the art. Everything outside the puzzles looks like a Neo-Romantic Where’s Waldo, and even in the puzzles it’s not until I’ve scanned the same bloody scene for the tenth bloody time to find the ONE missing bit of the magical stone of blow me that it starts feeling tiresome to look at.

I’m telling you there’s a nail in there. You know, for hammering. Find it.

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The animation, however, is ridiculous. The South Park pilot flows better. This is the game’s most obvious flaw. Even its attempts at being spooky fail because when it doesn’t feel like a lazy fade between stances, I am immediately reminded of the flash-like puppetry animation that plagues the Internet, which simply doesn’t suit such a detailed art style. Fortunately, Otherworld – Headless Garden Gnomes manages to save its sorry ass via the magic of music. The soundtrack is beautiful and fits all the environments like a glove, deserving a mandatory hats off.

However, some things felt unnecessarily laborious and unreal, such as having to drive back and forth between a farm and a house miles apart to make a coat from scratch for some little green shit, when stabbing him would prove to be a hastier solution. I mean, there’s a girl in danger, so why the hell am I shearing, washing, carding, spinning, weaving, cutting, and sowing the buttons for Smelly McShirt? Give me the damn bag or get stabbed!

It’s called the mantle.

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4/10

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