Tag Archives: review

Video: Twin Peaks Part 7 Review

Here’s my review and analysis of Twin Peaks: The Return part 7! We learned a little more about Diane played by the incomparable Laura Dern, and her sordid, dark history with Evil Cooper. Hawk talks about the missing pages from Laura Palmer’s diary. We learn a couple things about the decapitated corpse of (possibly) General Garland Briggs. Then we have the unnerving blackmail scene between Evil Cooper and the Warden. So much to discuss…always so much.

Beat Cop: Will You Want To Beat This Game?

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Beat Cop by Pixel Crow and publisher 11 Bit Studios is another great indie title from a small Polish studio.  

In the game, you play as Jack Kelly, former detective turned Beat Cop due to being framed for robbery of a Senator after stopping a burglar at the Senator’s villa. You’ll now be spending the next 21 days clearing his name before it’s too late. 

Jack is demoted to a parking enforcement officer for a street in Brooklyn, not very glamorous for a former hotshot detective. You may feel that writing tickets is a little too mundane for your tastes, but the interactions, funny dialogue, and even being a meter maid, can be quite enjoyable and satisfying. This game is dredged with influences from movies like Lethal Weapon, Dirty Harry, and Miami Vice.

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The best comparison to be made is to Paper’s Please, in both games you’re a civil servant with a menial task to do, but from that you have an addicting game play mechanic wrapped in a life or death balancing act that moves forward with an intriguing plot.

Back at the station you’re treated to plenty humorous banter between you and your brothers in blue. This is where the game lays out your days objectives.

 

You’ll be writing x amount of tickets for parking violations, poor tire conditions, broken lights or catching thieves shoplifting from the shopkeepers you visit daily on patrol. You’ll have to fill out your quota for the day while dealing with the citizens of Brooklyn and build a relationship with your community to pick up clues on who framed you.

In the game you’re asked to start paying alimony checks to your ex wife, sadly a cop’s salary might just not be enough to cut it without doing a little moonlighting on the side. This is when you can choose to help the shopkeepers with various assignments, most of them involve you taking an object from point a to point b.

Aside from the shopkeepers, you’ll be dealing with two factions of criminal scum, the Italians, and the Crew. These two give you missions daily which will strengthen your relationship between one of the factions. If you do enough missions for a particular faction you can accrue enough money to complete the game before the 21 days are up without learning who framed you. But if you become too friendly with one faction then it’s game over, and your poor ex-wife won’t be collecting that sweet alimony check.

Do you take a bribe from someone who doesn’t want a ticket, or skip your shoplifting watch and help a little girl who lost a cat. If you skip the ticket then you may not fulfill your quota for your jerk of a captain.

Depending on the choices you make this will influence your standing in the various different subsets of the community. Keeping in mind that this game has multiple endings that are affected by the way you interact with the people around you.

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The guys at Pixel Crow did a with the game’s art style. The pixel art is highly detailed and this game relies on the 80’s cop show feel. Although, you’ll be looking at the same street over and over again for the next three weeks. But the pixel art is a treat to look at.

There isn’t any voice acting, this is a text based adventure, but the dialogue is mostly funny at times; you may here a few off color terms thrown out here and there, but the guys at Pixel Crow were trying to keep with the time this game is set in.

Some lines of dialogue are repeated throughout the game, for example, when visiting the shop keeper’s they’ll repeat “Is that a gun, or are you just happy to see me?” Little bit tiresome to hear for the hundredth time. 

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I like the game, there is a lot of pressure to get through the day’s work before the clock hits 6 PM when it’s quitting time. The 80’s cop show/movie references and humor are definitely something that die hard fans of the genre will enjoy.

The tense money, time, and relationship management all the while trying to uncover a detective mystery is worthwhile enough to recommend a play through on more than one occasion due to the multiple endings and challenging game play mechanics. I believe that Pixel Crow can even take this game to iOS and Android in the future since the point and click controls would transfer seamlessly.

Beat Cop is available on SteamHumble Store, and GOG. For additional information about the game check out Pixel Crow along with any other games they may have coming down the pipeline. In the meantime follow them on Twitter.

The Shins – ‘Heartworms’ Review

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After a five year silence, The Shins have graced us with another set of tunes from that range from the sweetly melancholic, to more personal cuts touching on various aspects of life, loss, and love.

The album opener ‘Name For You’ paints the picture of a woman successful in traditional ways, weighed down by societal views of women and sexuality, lost amid the daily rush of life yearning for something more. The song brings the familiar Shins sound with an added flair of electronics, which is a musical motif we can find threaded throughout most of the album, perhaps a lingering air of Broken Bells, James Mercer’s side project.

It is evident from the solid wall of sound built by The Shins that while they may have taken time away, there is nothing lost in the time of their extended silence.

‘Cherry Hearts’ is a sickenly sweet track that uses the image of candy to evoke a love unrequited, like passing ships in the night. ‘You’re not wanting anybody wanting you, I get it honest fair, but I’ve been bitin’ all my cherry hearts in half and you don’t even care…’ A fantastically visceral image that perfectly displays the hollow disappointment of a missed chance. Coupled with the hook of ‘You kissed me once, when we were drunk’ it is a dizzying light look at the awkward almost relationships formed in half-confection-hearted attempts  at affection.

‘Mildenhall’ gives us a glimpse at the origin of the entertainer, a warm memory of Mercer practicing guitar chords on a rainy afternoon makes for a quietly reflective acoustic track that snugly fits in with the electric brightness of the rest of the album.

The title track ‘Heartworms’ gives us a look at a touch and go relationship leaving the suitor in a strange state of odd feelings. ‘I feel them wriggling in my blood, gonna do me harm. By now I’d rather lose this losing feeling that came on when you cooled off, started treating me in this friendly way…’ Mercer grabs for the strangeness of love missed or misinterpreted again and again on this album, succeeding nearly each time. ‘Heartworms’ delivers on it’s title in spades.

Sonically speaking there is a freshness to the familiar noises we have welcomed in days passed from The Shins. While ‘Heartworms’ hasn’t got the epic thrust of their previous output, ‘Port of Morrow‘ or the beautifully bizarre ‘Wincing the Night Away‘, it gives us another set of tracks that assures us The Shins are still relevant and willing to morph, if only ever so slightly.

Heartworms is available now from their official website and wherever records are sold.

Stand out tracks: ‘Cherry Hearts’, ‘Rubber Ballz’, ‘Heartworms’

Lemon Demon – Spirit Phone: Glittery Chills Done Effectively

by Anthony Wetmore (GhostConch, @TheMisterPipes)

Lemon Demon, or Neil Cicierega is a name you might be familiar with. Known best for internet musical confections such as Brody Quest, and perhaps more so for Potter Puppet Pals also sets out to nail down his own weird corner of the glittery strange subsection of nerdy electro-pop rock. His latest album, Spirit Phone, taps into the nerd territory of catchy-hooks and deranged subject matter ala They Might Be Giants with the slick, glassy production and synth driven melodies of Joe Jackson. The subject matter is perfectly delicious for any aficionado of the stranger side of life, ghosts, aliens, general uneasiness, even protecting your grandfather from the woes of modern technology. 

Over the span of this album we are privy to a wide swath of weirdos and oddities. Cabinet Man gives us a glimpse into the tragedy of a man between two worlds, life as video game and the eventual dissolution of the Arcade era. Sweet Bod unfurls a twisted view from a well intended party bent on a rather unorthodox fetishization of a dead body, reassuring us ‘it’s not sexual, it’s confectional…’  Spiral of Ants paints a beautifully eerie meditation on ant death circles and in doing so also provides a meta-meditation on what it means to be alive, if anything at all.

I could go on and on about the merits of this project and delve into the deeper and not so deep implications found on Spirit Phone, but it’s probably just better if you pick it up and listen. 

Spirit Phone is out now and can be purchased here: https://lemondemon.bandcamp.com/album/spirit-phone

Nerd Hall is still alive and kicking, hit us back for more reviews, news and maybe even some clues. We’ve got it on lock. Love you all (but not like that).

Half-awake Track Review No One Needs

by Anthony Wetmore
(GhostConch, @TheMisterPipes)

Do you ever just wake up in the middle of the night almost all
the way but not quite enough to get hit with the hard facts of your general
known reality? Of course you do. Rarely do you remember the contents of those
small moments in the darkness where you may finally figure out how to put
together that over-complicated furniture, rework the last few pages of your
certainly award-worthy book, or perhaps where you left your retainer in fourth
grade. I’m rambling, but you understand what I am saying.

Early this morning for no
reason at all the song “Foxtrot
Uniform Charlie Kilo”
 from
the barely remembered Bloodhound
Gang 
was
rolling around in my head, and with it, an epiphany of small scale struck me.

With it’s quick and brightly colored beat and seemingly stream
of consciousness flow of nonsense words, the song is fairly innocuous on the
surface. Just under that shiny surface we are privy to an array of fun and
amusing word-pairings that are not traditionally innuendo turned on it’s ear to
a suggestion of bluer intent. Each pairing more ridiculous and perhaps more
obvious than the last paints a broad picture of what else but sex.

A few noted examples:

“Batter dip the cranny ax
In the gut locker”

“Marinate the nether rod
In the squish mitten”

Of course it goes on from there with more abstract imagery for
intercourse and the culmination of the intentions with the catchy and
not-so-subtle hook found in the songs title. Foxtrot, uniform, charlie, kilo
(F.U.C.K. for those uninitiated.) not only gives us the genesis of the song,
but also another double entendre in it’s use of the coded alphabet suited
usually to military purposes. That in itself seemed superiorly (not a word)
profound to the very half awake mind I inhabited at the time.  

Jimmy Pop you brilliant sonofabitch, get out of my
half-made consciousness and stay out. I do not know if we learned anything at
all here today, perhaps that wasn’t the point of this, maybe it’s more along
the lines of strange memory and my general interest in the way we use words to
form ideas and opinions as well as playing with the sounds and colors of
meaning to define, deal with, or effect the world around us. I should probably
stop carrying on now, I don’t want to beat around the bush. (See what I did
there?)

You can listen to the song above and see if you agree with what I’ve found in the between world of sleep and wakefulness considering this dumb song about fucking.

Hefty Fine, the album the song is featured on came out ten years ago and no one cares any more, find it on amazon? Don’t? 

Whatever you decide to do, stop reading this and keep checking back with Nerd Hall for more inane thought-pieces, pop culture news, reviews and so so much more. We’re also on the twitter: @nerdhallblog

Thank you, I’m sorry.

Pokemon Symphonic Evolutions: Review

by Anthony Wetmore (GhostConch, @TheMisterPipes)

As many of you are well aware, Pokemon has had a stronghold in the pop culture scene for the better part of going on twenty plus years. Those that are familiar, from the ones there from the very beginning at around my climbing age to the young trainers just starting out with the still strong series. Through games, cartoons and several films, we have felt the intensity of the close battles, the sadness of parting with dear friends as well as the triumphs of succeeding through endless trials. Over all, Pokemon has always been about amusement adventure and ultimately fun. 

Then you have something like Pokemon: Symphonic Evolutions. More on this in a moment, let me first paint you a picture. 

Entering the venue, I was assaulted with a barrage of colorful costumes, shiny glimmering DS cases, countless stuffed animals, children of all ages strewn about a mostly empty pre-show area socialising, excitedly talking with friends, playing their Pokemon games of choice, patiently awaiting the show produced by Princeton Entertainment. The sense of familiarity and kinship was high and of course a little shy. The sense of excitement even higher. It’s a Pokemon-themed concert, what else in the world could be better?

Pretty much anything as it turns out.

Waiting in the seats as the venue barely filled in, the excitement carried on. The large display screens had an endless rotation of everyone’s favorite guessing game: Who’s That Pokemon?! (+10 EXP if you heard the voice in your head) With each new silhouette came a crowd scream of various Pokemon. The orchestra all the while tuning their instruments, preparing for the oncoming show.

After a short introduction explaining we’d be going through the music of Pokemon chronologically, we were off into the meat of the show. The orchestra started into the main theme and over head the giant screens show the various openings to the Gameboy games, as well as the introduction to the world of Pokemon, picking your starter, several battle clips, gym leaders and the like in a haphazard not quite flowing manner. Knowing the stories already, perhaps the context isn’t as important but it does lend to the flow of everything. The attention is divided between the game screens and the music itself. 

The music is flawlessly transferred into beautiful symphony arrangements from the original 8-bit tunes within the games, but it suffers at the paper-thin context as well as the targeted audience. The children are engaged with the displays of the game and the various colorful Pokemon and I’m sure they recognised the reconstituted tunes, but wholly the event comes off as a trite exercise in combining that which does not gel. Not to say it wasn’t a valiant effort, the songs were beautiful, it just doesn’t quite match it’s context. 

The novelty of it may engage the small cross-section of older fans who also happen to enjoy symphony music as well as the immense impact Pokemon has had on the world over. There may even been a key to something new within the performance, inspiring a young mind to delve into the beauty of classical style music, there is hope, but ultimately everyone present (and there was hardly a full theater) was smashing that mental B button harder than ever.

Nerd Hall Sips: A Soda Review

by Anthony Wetmore (@TheMisterPipes, GhostConch)

Something a little different for this early Friday afternoon.

Sprite: LeBron’s Mix (also Sprite 6 Mix)

We’re all familiar with Sprite. A refreshingly light and crisp clean lemon-lime uncola for the masses care of the Coca-Cola Company, known mostly for Coca-Cola (Classic, not that hip “New” Coke, please).

In 1959, in West Germany Coca-Cola developed what would become Sprite as Fanta Klare Zitrone (Clear Lemon Fanta). Introduced in the United States in 1961 in direct competition with the preexisting 7-Up.

Jump forward to just last year we as a nation are introduced to the “limited edition” Sprite variant Sprite: LeBron’s Mix (Sprite 6 Mix). In cahoots with Coca-Cola famed basketball player LeBron James placed his good name and spin on the new Sprite product. LeBron’s Mix is a lemon-lime soda with notes of cherry and orange.

Overall as a doomed fan of all things fizzy, chilled and otherwise, I was intrigued by the new take on an old favorite.

The scent upon opening the bottle is a familiar one of lemon-lime acidity with subtle undertones of the sweeter orange and the bolder cherry notes. Pleasant and not all much different than one would expect from a clean, crisp Sprite. First tastes reveal the differences which are almost afterthoughts to the classic drink. Lemon-lime “lymon” is still the lead in this new Sprite show, though as it lingers, the orange reveals itself gently carrying the cherry along with it to round out what is ultimately a stellar, though downplayed combination. With these introductions, LeBron’s Mix presents a heartier, grounded though all around still refreshing soda drinking experience. If you’re at all out for something out of the ordinary “un-cola”, you can’t go wrong with LeBron’s Mix

The classic green bottle sporting a newly designed white, red and gold label evokes a sense of royalty, something a little beyond your average pop-bottle advert label. It promises a smooth and almost luxurious soda experience which it delivers effectively. Thanks Mr. James, and thank you Coca-Cola for this submission to the soda lexicon.

LeBron’s Mix though touted as a “limited edition” can still be found on shelves. 

[Photo courtesy of: csnews.com]