Flash Friday: Onomastica

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Onomastica is a cute little puzzle platformer that’s centered entirely around wordplay. Besides your avatar, every part of the game is built on words. You can’t get up the letters that say “TAIRS”? Push over that “S” and you’ll get stairs. See an impenetrable wall? Move those “ET” next to the “ROCK” and soar away. I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for games that play with how abstract/literally things on the screen are to be taken, so if that’s your jam too, you should head on over. The game is elegant and short, and there’s really no excuse to not play it right now.

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what you should be watching: the tekkit chronicle

I should probably confess at this point that I watch a lot of Youtube. And when I say a lot, I mean a lot. My computer’s too old to play any of the games I want to play, so I end up spending most of the time I would be playing them watching Youtube videos of them instead. And I’ve noticed with a lot of Youtube series, Minecraft in particular, there’s this tendency to start with an amusing Let’s Play which eventually grows into a much larger story arc (with The Shadow of Israphel being one of the most prominent examples). And Rythian and Zoey’s Tekkit Chronicle is not very different. Although the show starts out with a definite theme, it doesn’t really go from good to great until it starts having some obviously scripted plotlines.

Look at these cuties (click on image for original artist's post)

Look at these cuties (click on image for original artist’s post)

The story starts out with the entirely skippable prequel, which is basically just Rythian waking up alone on a deserted island. He remembers two other players, Sjin and Duncan, having an epic duel on another server they played on together. During the course of the duel, Rythian’s house was destroyed, Rythian himself was killed, and then one of them sabotaged a nuclear generator so that an explosion pretty much ruined any thoughts any of the other players may have had about rebuilding. Rythian swears revenge on Duncan and Sjin for destroying everything he worked so hard to build, and it’s actually a bit boring.

But then Zoey falls from the sky holding nothing but a mushroom. And she is the real reason to watch this series. Cute, charming, a bit scatterbrained, and constantly spouting nerdy references, she’s the perfect counterpoint to Rythian’s revenge-driven seriousness. She promises to help Rythian destroy Sjin and Duncan–her home and mushrooms were also destroyed during the Tekkit War–and together they work together to build a magic user’s haven, to counteract Sjin and Duncan’s love of science.

Along the way, they have plenty of adventures. Zoey gets killed by and subsequently befriends a mute T-Rex named Teep. They create a suicidal snow golem. They travel to New Pool, where their closest neighbors seem to spend the majority of the their time arguing about the titular new pool and killing each other’s tuna sandwich. They have a baby together. And then their dinosaur gets kidnapped and Zoey has to let Rythian in on a secret she’s been keeping from him in order to save their friend.

one of the cool things about minecraft is it's openness to artistic interpretation

one of the cool things about minecraft is it’s openness to artistic interpretation

I think my favorite thing about this series is that they’re very aware of the difference between character and actor. They’re both playing roles based on themselves, but, unlike other Minecraft series I have watched, they seem to exist wholly in the Tekkit world. Rythian, in particular, has a tendency to get seriously in character in his video game playthroughs (check out his Dishonored playthrough if you don’t believe me), but they seem so natural together, it would be easy to imagine Rythian was a standard issue douchebag and Zoey was a first class space cadet if you didn’t watch them interact together in other videos.

Another thing that’s really great is this show’s treatment and deconstruction of Zoey as a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. It’s easy to think that since the show is (at least at first) shot solely from Rythian’s point of view that he’s the character who should be relied on, even when he continually second guesses Zoey or mentions that she’s his apprentice. But eventually that’s shown to fall apart, as [redacted for spoilers]. And, even more refreshingly, Zoey is completely aware of Rythian’s pretentious bullshit and continually calls him on it, even if he tends to just brush it off. Zoey is consistently her own person, rather than an extension of Rythian, although Rythian tends to ignore that fact. Zoey’s the one who makes friends with Nilesy, babysits a baby volcano, decorates the entire castle, and helps the mushrooms unite into a single government. Rythian, it seems, rarely does anything we don’t catch on camera, and if we missed it, it probably wasn’t that exciting anyway.

In conclusion, this show is good, you should watch it, quality youtube, A+.

Have any suggestions for things I should be putting on this blog? Leave them in the comments.

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what you should be playing: the binding of isaac

Full disclaimer: I have never actually played The Binding of Isaac. I have, however watched over 10 hours of gameplay on youtube, so I think that qualifies me to write a review of this game. 

If you’ve ever wondered, as I often have, “What would it be like if Adventure Time was mixed with The Legend of Zelda, Pan’s Labyrinth, and then left to soak in a marinade of biblical themes and then doused with a splash of generic flash game adorableness?”, then this is the game for you. If you haven’t, don’t worry,  you should still probably check it out.

Yep, you're that crying kid.

Yep, you’re that crying kid.

The Binding of Isaac is the story of Isaac, a bald kid whose mother hears a voice from “god” and decides her son is sinful and needs to destroy him. Isaac hears this, and finds a trapdoor in his bedroom, which leads to the basement, where he fights all sorts of adoraterrifying monsters  with the power of his tears. Along the way, he finds uses bombs, keys, and coins to find and unlock items, most of which change his appearance in some form. The higher levels will leave Isaac (or any of the unlockable characters) grossly disfigured, and with powers such as bloody tears or the ability to spit giant balls of chocolate milk at his enemies.

The real beauty of this game is the randomness. Every playthrough is uniquely generated, with each room, item drops, etc. being completely different from every previous and subsequent playthrough. And, because there are no save points, every death means a new game. And while that’s fairly standard for a roguelike game, the way Isaac changes throughout the game means that each game is almost like playing a new character.

The game is currently made in flash, but the creator (Edmund McMillen, who also made Super Meat Boy and Gish) has announced that he’s remaking the game to take it out of that format so it will be less buggy, and also available on the Playstation Network.

If you’re like me, and are working with a computer so old it won’t even download steam, definitely check out Nilesy‘s plays of this game on Youtube. Otherwise, head on over to Steam and pick up a copy.

Or, you know, don’t. It’s your life. I’m just some person on the internet.

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Helloooo

and welcome to my new blog.

What I will be posting here in the future is things I like. Because, let’s face it, I like a lot of things, and I think everyone deserves to find out about the things that I like so that they can like them too.

The first real post will probably be up later today or tomorrow, and after that I’ll try to update at least once a week.

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