Speculative Fiction Saturday: Star Vs. The Forces of Evil

Star-vs-The-Forces-of-Evil-post2Okay, I think we all can agree that adults can watch cartoons, and why? Because they are not for the least common denominator anymore. Some of them, like Steven Universe, are actually pretty intelligent, and assume that you are following an extended storyline. Star Vs. The Forces of Evil can join that particular club.

Star Vs. The Forces of Evil is one of those shows that looks like it is just made for fun’s sake. Watch the opening, with the weird tones that sound like an 80’s video game effect. Then try hard to follow the title sequence as everything is running at fast motion. It looks like a sugar high designed to keep your kid’s attention for a half-hour while you get some rest.

The pilot episode sets up the premise of a princess from another dimension who is sent to Earth because…she and her wand cause too much chaos on her own dimension of Mewni. Instead of her parents taking the wand away, they seem to believe that the planet is expendable and want Star to learn some control of some type. Believe it or not, this is Plan A, and there is another plan to send her to a reform school for wayward princesses.

Am I going too fast for you? That’s because the show is at a very fast pace. But Star Butterfly (that is her name) is essentially an inter-dimensional exchange student who lives with the Diaz family, who have a son Star’s age named Marco. Marco is first introduced as a do-gooder that knows karate, and episodes usually consist of Marco and Star fending off monsters. The monsters are led by some parrot-like aberration named Ludo, because…they want to take over the world?

It feels like a set-up with plot-holes, but if you watch the first season in its entirety, you can see that perhaps these holes are deliberate. I have explained on a separate article on The Gospel Herald how there are some fan theories and how the finale did a very serious number on the viewer of what is, on the surface, a nonsense comedy show.

I found that this show, even with its fast pace, started pretty slow. I almost quit watching it because it was deliberately going nowhere, but once you finish the season, you realize that it is going somewhere. In fact, Star Vs. The Forces of Evil has been renewed for two more seasons, and I am curious what direction the show is going.

“I Want To Be Human” Game Review

I-want-to-be-human-Spinning-bladeAs you can see, I am reviewing a game that is black and white and red all over. This is I Want To Be Human, and it has an interesting look to it.

The premise of this game is that you are a vampire girl, and you are seeking to find your boyfriend who is a hat boy in the midst of a building filled with platforms. On the surface, it is a platformer, and that is all it really needs to be, honestly.

Many of these platform games rely on jumping, and what makes this is the main character has some wacky bat ears that keep her aloft for a little while. The main character also has a gun, and there are a lot of enemies to shoot.

By the way, when you shoot them, they explode into a pile of blood. It is deliberately gratuitous, and in case you haven’t realized it yet, the game is not meant for younger audiences. There is dialogue that is pretty sick as well.

However, it is all in fun, maybe not good, but fun. I have to admit, this is the second game that I tried where the controls were a little wonky, but after playing for a while, I didn’t really care.

I Want To Be Human is available on Steam for a price of $14.99.

Our Review of Marble Mountain

Marble MountainOkay, today the second out of three video games that I am going to talk about this week. This is Marble Mountain.

I’ll start by saying that it is practically impossible to talk about Marble Mountain without mentioning a 1984 Atari game known as Marble Madness. It was released during the time when stand-up arcade games were going out of style, and the point of the game was to get a marble to the end of a trail.

The issue is that Marble Madness had tracks that were nothing more than 3-D graphs. It had some hint of M.C. Escher, like the game The Bridge, but the courses were pretty minimalist. Part of it was due to graphical restraints back then.

Marble Mountain has much more beautiful courses, and the landscapes are natural green, brown, and all other colors of nature. In fact, it is pretty clear that the programmers spend a lot of time building the natural landscapes of this place, and making places that look like cities for the marble player to roll around in.

I also have to give kudos to the designers for giving the game a great sense of control. The game is all about making certain that when you roll, you don’t roll too far and go off the edge. Oftentimes, the camera can shift to give you a better view, but at no time does that ever mess up the controls.

Still, I wish that I had a trackball on my computer so I could play it like I did Marble Madness in the arcade. This is a pretty difficult game to beat, I will say that.

I will recommend this game, and you can get it on the Steam Store for about $9.99.

Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim

TyrimThis is going to be one of a few video games that I will be reviewing this week, and I will have to say that I wish I had more time to play Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim. The issue with video games is that there is never enough time to play the games you want, and games that require a lot of time take a lot of time to get used to.

Such is the case for the epic open-world fantasy RPG Cornerstone: The Song of Tyrim. I had a chance to play the game on Steam, and it is a combination of many games. You play the young Viking Tyrim, and he can wander about this Viking world like an RPG, and the world that I saw reminded me of the island from How to Train Your Dragon.

The typical RPG elements of interacting with characters and doing tasks is here. I didn’t really get a chance to play all of it, but there are some deep dungeons here. So maybe this will be like my favorite gaming series with The Legend of Zelda.

The issue that I had with this game was that I didn’t like the controls, with the W-A-S-D and the mouse. I found that a lot of the puzzles, which were somewhat difficult, were more difficult with the controls. That goes for picking up and dropping objects, as well as jumping, as well as combat. In fact, I found that this was so not cool to deal with, that I just stopped playing for a while.

In comparison, I have been trapped in RPGs that I have reviewed before because I so wanted to solve the puzzles and complete the quests, but not this one. However, I don’t want to criticize this game, because I can tell that lot of love went into it. If this were a console game, and the controls were easier like a Zelda game, then I would be all over this.

Perhaps you have a Steambox or something better to play games with, then you might find this game more than entertaining. If that is you, then I highly recommend going over to the Steam Store and purchasing it for $19.99.

Catalyst Case for the iPad Mini 4

catalyst_ipad_mini4_-03bsWell, in an age where everyone needs a case, and there is a lot of good ones like Lifeproof and Otterbox. The last time at CES, I had a chance to review a case from Catalyst for the iPhone 6/6S.

This one is for the iPad Mini 4, and it is Waterproof IP68, and it is waterproof up to 2 meters (6.6 feet). So, it is also dirt proof, snow proof, and drop proof. For the drop proof part, it has a premium rubber bumper for a soft grip.

The case comes in two pieces, which can sandwich together to form a lot of transparent goodnees. Not only does that front give something completely transparent to access the iPad touchscreen, but the back is transparent so the Apple logo can be seen. You can even access the Touch ID with extra-large ports to accommodate the charging and headphone jack.

So, if you are an iPad Mini 4 user, and you want to get in on this Catalyst protection, it is available on the Catalyst site for $89.99.

I A Charger, A Charger Made for Business

IachargerOf course, not everything that I write about is something complicated, as I have just reviewed chargers before. I mean, everyone owns at least a few of them. I am going to explain what I mean by I A Charger with a charger for business.

I don’t know about you, but I have noticed a lot of businesses with chargers in place for their customers, because everyone has been in a place where they need to have that little bit more juice on their phone. The I A Charger is made for businesses, as it comes with screws to put it in.

The IA Charger also comes with a USB plug or with plug for the wall, whatever is easier. It is also set up for iOS and Android with a Lightning or micro-USB connector. What is great is that they are on very thin cords that can extend and retract.

You should be able to purchase the I A Charger on the company website for about $39.95.

Speculative Fiction Saturday: The Running Man

The_Running_Man_2_68252Okay, is this actually the first time that I have reviewed an Arnold Schwarzenegger film? Well, besides Batman and Robin, the answer is no. Oh, there was that 2012 Total Recall movie, and you can’t mention that bad remake without mentioning Arnold.

The Running Man is one of those films that feels like it could have been intelligent, and some, such as Series 7, actually are. It feels like dystopian future death sport films are pretty much a sub-genre of speculative fiction film. The premise is easy to explain, as Ben Richards appears on a game show where he is given a headstart and then must start running before Hunters kill him.

This is based on a book by Stephen King, when he wrote under the name of Richard Bachman. Certain there are horror elements in this premise, but put Arnold in it, and it becomes an action film. This was back when Schwarzenegger was doing rather unintelligent action films with modest budgets.

The thing about this film is that time has not been kind to it. In fact, the opening text crawl states that the world kind of went to hell in a handbasket in around 2017. Apparently, the government keeps people entertained with a game show, sort of like how Ancient Rome used the Coliseum.

I’ve only read a summary of the book, but the premise was a lot darker, involving a world where the players of “The Running Man” game are in it for a 1 billion dollar prize. In this film version, the contestants are convicted criminals evading their sentence.

The set up is that Arnold’s character, Ben Richards, is a cop who refuses to open fire on protesters, and so they turn him in. Eventually, the game show spins the video so Arnold looks like he did open fire. By the way, the book has a darker ending that I don’t want to reveal, but I will say that if you were going to remake this film, they wouldn’t show it.

Well, Richards is put on “The Running Man”, which is hosted by a man named Killian (Real life Family Feud host Richard Dawson of all people, which is great casting). Once Richards is sent out, a series of Stalkers are sent out after him, and they are costumed like pro-wrestlers. It feels like an addition to the movie.

There is one Stalker named Sub-Zero, and after Arnold takes him out, he has this line of “Sub-Zero, now Plain Zero”. Wouldn’t “Absolute Zero” be a better line? Ah well, Arnold has a lot of really bad catchphrase one-liners in this.

What is interesting is how Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura, who eventually became governors, are in this film. Considering that The Running Man is a warning of politics intersecting with entertainment, I’m not certain what is supposed to be said here. I could probably use that phrase to describe the theme of this movie.

The way this film illustrates what the eighties thought a dystopian future is hysterical. All the computers look terrible, and the ending theme just screams “eighties”.

MyCharge All Terrain 3000mAh Rechargeable Portable Charger

MyChargeSo, I have tried myCharge products in the past, such as the HubPlus and the 2000 mAh charger. Today, I got the All Terrain to try out, and I’m not certain how to describe it.

Okay, I do, it is portable charger, which is what you use when you need some power. I just can’t describe this shape but like a handle of a gun, maybe?

This thing is IP68 military grade, so it is waterproof, temperature proof, dirt proof, and shock-proof. Yes, it has the big four there.

So, it can flip up with a built-in USB port for the 2.1 A output and then have the micro-USB for charging. It can hold battery power for up to 1 year, and charge up to 65 percent faster.

If you are wanting this extra power, you can find it on the myCharge site for $39.99.

Twilight Zone Reboot will Return as Part Show and Part Game

Twilight ZoneI’m sure you are all aware of The Twilight Zone, I mean it was a 1959-1964 speculative fiction anthology show that was in black and white. Then it returned in color for a movie in 1983, then on CBS for another three seasons in 1985-1989. It has one last chance in 2002 for a season on UPN (yeah, remember them?), and now it will have another chance.

In fact, there is going to be an “interactive” live-action version of the classic sci-fi series. Ken Levine, the creator of the hit game BioShock, is planning on writing and directing the pilot episode. This will be a mix of a film and a game, but there is something interactive about it.

Most people remember how the show had some serious twist endings, with a speculative spin. Perhaps there is some kind of “Choose Your Own Adventure” element going on. Maybe you can twist your own dark ending, with some show/game kind of like Quantum Break.

Well, considering that film could be getting more interactive these days, it just works to have something like this. If it doesn’t work, then I hope this doesn’t affect the name of The Twilight Zone, which already had a great and iconic reputation.

Source 1 and Source 2

Razer Turret Combo

razer-turretWell, it has been a while since I have reviewed a Razer product, but not for lack of trying. Dang, has it really been three years since I reviewed the OrbWeaver? Man, I need to get a hands-on review of this.

Apparently, Razer has been working on this Turret for about a year. It is a pretty good device that has a keyboard and lapboard for a mouse. It is made for those who have a PC hookup on their TV for gaming. You might as well use that big screen for something, and I am guessing that there are people that are doing this and need a Turret.

In fact, if you have a Google-powered set-top box, there are some dedicated Android keys. Yes, this looks very cool, and you can get it for about $160.