Backseat Gaming Challenge 1: In Which I Make My Boyfriend Go On a Date with a Pigeon

Smalerie Note: You might have noticed that there is a lot of bolded text down below.  In order to attempt this experiment, I had to promise The Boy that he could get a chance to interject his opinion on both the games and my post as I wrote it.  So, um yeah, let’s see how this works. The text in bold are his comments.

A couple years ago, when this blog was still cutting its baby teeth, I wrote an article about backseat gaming.  In the case you don’t want to check out the old post, I’ll summarize it for you.  I love video games, but can’t really play them due to my carpal tunnel.  Instead, I’ll often play the “assist” with my boyfriend, making suggestions, cheering him on, and getting overly excited when I can convince myself that yelling “JUMP!!!!” every few seconds is actually a helpful thing.

Now normally I wouldn’t mind the back seat gaming. It can make for some interesting conversation: “I must say dear Valerie, that head shot from my new sniper rifle is quite smashing. But I do worry about its DPS”. So in an attempt to give her something new to watch me play, I told her to pick the strangest games she could find and boy howdy did she deliver.

For some strange reason, we haven’t been doing this together as much.  I think there are a few factors in play here, but The Boy wants to lure me back.  And so he issued a challenge.  He would let me choose 3-4 games on his Steam account and he would play them, no matter what I picked.   And so, I endure the weak AC unit in his office to bring you the first in this series: Hatoful Boyfriend.

hatoful

Ta Da!

Note: The AC is not weak. She is just crazy.

Hatoful Boyfriend is not a new game.  In fact, those in the know were able to get a fan-translated free demo back in 2011 that was so popular that it resulted in the translation of the full game.  This game certainly has legs though.  This year has not only seen additional releases of its HD remake but there are plans for remake of the sequel Hatoful Boyfriend: Holiday Star as well.

Oddly enough I have never really heard of the game until more recently and with good reason I suppose. I mean look at it. You’re dating pigeons!! You might was well be playing a game where you are dating disease infested winged rats. Histoplasmosis! Cryptococcosis!  Gingivitis?!…but I must soldier on.

Hatoful Boyfriend is a dating sim with a twist.  Think of it as a “Choose Your Own Adventure” visual novel where your main objective is to find love…in a hopeless place. ;)  Ok, maybe not hopeless, but certainly weird, because in this world, highly intelligent birds are the new dominant society.  Humans, on the other hand, have been reduced to living in caves outside of town.  You are in luck though.  Your character has been chosen to attend the premiere high school for birds: St. PigeoNation’s Institute.  And so your quest begins, both for an education and hopefully LURVE.

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Which of these handsome birds will The Boy choose?

I suppose as dating sims go it’s all right, not that I have much basis for comparison nor have I ever dated an actual bird. I mean, a world where intelligent birds exist might lead to some interesting conversations but could get pretty awkward.  This is especially true when Thanksgiving rolls around with your bird friends and you’re serving their Uncle Bob the turkey as the main dish.  

Smalerie’s Review: This game gets a lot of points for having both a wicked sense of humor and a truly original plot line.  All the typical romantic stereotypes are here – from the friend you grew up with to the mysterious loner but you know, this time around, they’re birds.  While the story is often engaging, I found myself wishing that it was better-paced and had more choice elements.  It wasn’t uncommon for you to spend a very long time getting through a scenario only to find yourself rushing through others.  Thankfully, the focus on telling a story is strong enough to pull you through.  Scattered through the game are inside jokes, hints as to why humans have been taken over by birds, and situations that are both dangerous and bizarre.  These sorts of elements can add a lot of replay value for those who are looking for a game that is laser-focused on allowing you to experience the world in which it takes place.  I can certainly see the appeal and was extremely entertained to watch as The Boy tried to court some fancy pants pigeon who was not only a French aristocrat, but also student council president.  *Swoon! He did pretty well, but I think I could do better.  In fact, I might try a few games on my own to see if I have more game than the boy.  Spoiler alert: I do! 3.5 out of 5 Birdketeers.

The Boy’s Review: So the game basically consists of playing as a female character and trying to woo a pigeon. This is surprisingly harder than it seems. Imagine going up to one of your co-workers and trying to tell them that you need their pencil, but your sentences to choose from are:

A) “Boy, we sure are having some great weather today”

B) “Did you see Bob over in accounting? Geez Louise”

and my favorite  

c) “Hey, where did my napkin go?”

The result is that you keep going in an almost round about way until you finally get what you want. Since I did was not particularly enamored by any one pigeon (ahem) that I met over the course of the game, I thought I would go with the funniest sounding which was Sakuya. Lemme tell you something, if the thought of a french fantail pigeon with a snotty attitude doesn’t tickle your funny bone, then you need to hang out with pigeons more often.

bird

Smalerie’s competition?

In any event the game pushes you on to go through semester after semester of school, interacting with various birds and their roles.  At times you get to make decisions about participating in a class or school event  with one of your potential suitors or sometimes going it alone.   Sprinkle in some winter and summer breaks, and you have a chance to strike up some romance depending on how often you manage to interact with a particular bird. Er, not that I ever found myself staring into the deep brown eyes of Sakuya, wishing hope against hope that if he opened his heart up a little, he would see me as the one true friend he needed.

The only part of the game that I found truly interesting, and I use the word loosely,  is that the new world that the character finds herself in seems to hint of a major catastrophe of epic proportions that gave rise to intelligent birds. In the end I give Hatoful boyfriend 2 out of 5 Bernices.

Well, it looks like I got a lot more enjoyment out of this game than the Boy did. Have you ever played this game?  Have any helpful tips to share?  Or maybe just want to make a suggestion for the next game I force The Boy to play?  Let us know in the comments below and participate in the torture, erm, I mean FUN!

Mary Sue FAQ

Twilight Bella Swan Mary Sue

Bella Swan from Twilight, a character often labeled as a Mary Sue

The term “Mary Sue” gets thrown around a lot, in fanfiction circles, in criticism of books, TV shows, and films, and as the name of a well known lady-centric pop culture website. Like many terms born in recent decades, it seems ubiquitous, but not everyone is 100% clear on what it actually means. Who is “Mary Sue”? Where did she come from? Why is calling a character a “Mary Sue” a putdown? Today’s LoC will answer your questions about the nature of the Mary Sue.

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Boston Comic Con 2015- Haley Atwell Panel

Agent-Carter-poster-570x760This year (2015) Boston Comic Con handled the big name guest panels a little differently.  Attendees had to get online tickets (no charge) for seats.  I think this worked pretty well and kept you from having to line up hours before a panel to get a seat.  It did however require some pre-planning. Thanks to The Goog, who went online to get tickets as soon as they went up while I was driving us to NH, we were able to attend the Haley Atwell panel late on Sunday.  If you are reading this you likely know that Atwell plays Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel Universe.  She has been in both the Captain America movies, and her own Agent Carter series, which is getting second season.

When the panel started we found there was a special bonus, Brett Dalton (Agent Grant Ward from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D) was joining Atwell in the panel and doing some moderating.  After the “Hail Hydra’s” died down once Dalton took the stage, the first question he teasingly asked Atwell was “What’s your favorite color?”  She responded with a snarky, “I don’t have one, I’m not 6.”  But in case you are wondering, Dalton’s favorite is blue.

Atwell is just as lovely, funny, and delightful as you might assume.  When asked if she thought playing Peggy would take off the way it has, she said she had no idea.  Really, she said she just wanted to be able to smell Chris Evans… and Dalton chimed in, “Don’t we all?!”

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Sorry the pics are so far away, I got caught up in a Gishwhes item and got to the line a little late.

Speaking of Chris Evans…some important things to know about him is that he laughs hysterically and grabs his left boob, which is now a thing you can’t unsee if you see him doing any interviews.  He’s also game for crazy schemes.  This launched Atwell into the hilarious story behind these dubsmash videos.  Recently there was a Dubsmash war between the Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D cast and the Agent Carter cast.  For the videos starring Cap himself, Atwell and James D’Arcy (who plays Jarvis in Agent Carter) left LA at 3:30 am, and flew to Atlanta to hang with Evans for a few hours and do the videos.  And yeah, she made him practice that kiss a lot, telling him, “Come on now, it has to seem like you really want me!”  Then it was back to LA the same day, and all because Atwell hates to lose.  Of course the real winners here are the fans, and we were given a heads up on staying tuned for another chapter in the dubsmash war that will help raise money for charity.

Much of the panel was audience Q&A, and for the most part, questions were good.  We were able to find out that Atwell’s favorite fight scene to film was the diner fight scene in Agent Carter, during which she has Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” playing in her head.  She also really appreciated how listened to she felt in the context of playing Peggy.  She thinks the term “strong woman” is weird, because all women are strong, but an important thing about Peggy is that she can also be sad, and vulnerable. Peggy uses her wit and her warmth to achieve her goals, and like many of her fans, Atwell aspires to be Peggy Carter in her real life.

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Brett Dalton also aspires to be Peggy IRL.

It wouldn’t be a Comic Con panel if the question of who would win in a fight between Agents Carter and Ward didn’t come up, and it did.  While this will never actually happen, Dalton admitted he would be terrified to fight Atwell.  This was a good segue into a question that asked Atwell what was the most grueling thing about playing Peggy. Atwell admitted that there was nothing particularly grueling about playing Peggy but did share a story about an experience in the theater.  Theater is her first love but earlier in her career she worked with a director who discounted a suggestion she made, but then applauded the same suggestion when it came from a male actor.  When she brought this to the male director’s attention she was told, “You are an actress and under 30, why would I listen to you?”

After a brief interlude when both Atwell and Dalton learned some Irish step dancing, yeah, really, Atwell shared some quotes and words of wisdom that inspired her.  They seem like nice parting words, so I looked them up and you can read them below.  In all it was a fun panel with a delightful pair and I can’t wait for Season 2 of Agent Carter.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Maryann Williamson

“Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s sceptre, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.”
― Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman

Boston Comic Con 2015 Report – Part 1

Since Tiny Doom and The Red Menace wrote the guide to Boston for Comic Con goers together, we thought we’d join forces again to give our take on what happened AT the 2015 Boston Comic Con. This post covers Friday. In order to set ourselves apart from the ordinary con reports, this one will be a pictorial starring two raptors and a baby.

Don’t worry, no actual babies or dinosaurs were harmed in the making of this post. The Fashion Raptors love their jobs, and Ugly Baby is a tradition in The Red Menace’s family – a joke between her grandma and sister which has now gone international. (NB: Ugly Baby is not considered ugly by everyone, but that’s the name she’s got. Her demonic smile, general macrocephaly, and compromised cranium are potential reasons for this. The Red Menace loves her anyway.)

 

Boston Comic Con 2015

Our first stop was the Bad Kids Press table. UB is friendly with the GWF’s Red Menace, as well as the Ladies’ Red Menace.

Boston Comic Con 2015

The Ladies brought candy for the Comic Con hordes to keep their blood sugar up!

One of the best parts of any comic convention is the cosplay. This year we decided to outsource finding some of the best cosplay at the con to our newest reporting team, the Fashion Raptors. After insuring that they were well fed, we sent them off to do their jobs. Many thanks to all the brave cosplayers who didn’t mind posing with some raptors.

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A Lady-centric Review of Justice League: Gods and Monsters

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch the new Justice League: Gods and Monsters.  I actually wasn’t all that interested in seeing it for several reasons, the top two being that DC hasn’t really been hitting it out of the park with their animated releases lately and frankly, I have a list of pet peeves that always seem to pop up whenever something is rebooted as “darker and more gritty.”

Well, thank you DC for only proving me a little right.

SPOILER WARNING:  From this point on, there are going to be A LOT of spoilers, so consider yourself warned because here we go.

Justice_League_Gods_vs._Monsters_Bluray_Cover

Overall, Gods and Monsters is not a bad movie.  In fact, in a lot of ways, it is really quite good and an improvement on some of DC’s more recent stuff.  There was a lot of talk about the return of Bruce Timm and Alan Burnett (writers on the original Batman: The Animated Series) and a familiar art-style from DC’s animation’s glory days, and I will admit that the result was pretty darn interesting.  The story did manage to pull me in, regardless of some raised eyebrows in the beginning.  But here is the problem, once you take a moment to step back and think about the film more broadly, you start to realize that DC still has some ground to cover when it comes to women.

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Animation About Women In Animation

As they have in so many fields, ladies have long struggled for the respect and recognition they’re due in the world of animation. The nature of animation means few creators get the spotlight to begin with, but the less in-depth histories of the art form don’t tend to include a lot of women’s names. Women have certainly been part of the history of animation from its earliest days, but their contributions are given far too little attention.

Fortunately, there have been efforts to correct this. One recent highlight was the 2015 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, which made women in animation one of its themes for the year. Evidence of the theme could be seen in the very first all-women jury for the festival and the following series of shorts promoting both the festival and the work of five ladies who made major contributions to the art form. These beautiful shorts were created by students at the internationally renowned Gobelins school in France and depict fanciful versions of these amazing women’s lives and careers. Since these gorgeous shorts are more fantasy than biography and the few lines at the end only provide a bit of background (for those of you who can read French), I’ve added short bios of the ladies featured in the shorts should you want to learn more.
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The Ladies of Comicazi Present: An Insider’s Guide to Boston- Part 2

Last week The Red Menace and Tiny Doom gave you a geek-based roundup of things to do in Boston proper while you are in town for Boston Comic Con.  This week, we encourage you to seek out adventure and explore a little farther.  Jump on the MBTA Red Line (you can do this at South Station) and head across the Charles River to the Cambridge/Somerville area (you may recall this train ride from Good Will Hunting). Here you will find lots of comic shops, universities, and “squares” like Central Square, Harvard Square, Davis Square, Union Square…. you get the picture.  Just think of a square as a concentrated place with a lot of cool stuff.  While not all squares are created equal, we will direct you to fun and MBTA accessible ones.

Pro Tip- Do not even think about trying to park your car in Harvard Yard.

Comics, Books, and Games

Comicazi
407 Highland Avenue, Somerville

Toys

Photo Credit: Comicazi Facebook

(Davis Square) Clearly, we feel strongly that Comicazi is one of the best comic shops in the area – it’s our base of operations, after all. But in all sincerity, we’ve been to many shops around the country – even the world, and Comicazi remains one of the best we’ve seen. Partly it’s due to the space, which is able to accommodate a robust selection of trade paper backs, traditional comics, games, and toys and still have room for events. Partly it’s due to the fact that staff are wonderfully helpful, willing to find what you need, make special orders if they need to, or chat about something you’re curious about. But mostly it’s due to the amazing, inclusive community of people who work and shop there. Any time you drop by there’s an opportunity for a meaningful conversation about the books, toys, and games we love so much – and that’s pretty darned special.

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The Ladies of Comicazi Present: An Insider’s Guide to Boston- Part 1

Howdy True Believers! As you probably know, at the end of the month Boston Comic Con will be in full swing. Once a fairly small showcase of local shops and talent, the Con is now a major event, drawing attendees from around the East Coast and the country with an impressive selection of guests and vendors.

Since so many folks will be visiting our fair city for the first time, Tiny Doom and I thought it would be fun to put together a list of our favorite Boston attractions – restaurants, museums, and of course, comic shops for you to visit. This week we’ll focus on spots you can find both around the Seaport World Trade Center, where the con is held, and in other parts of Boston proper. Next week we’ll post some spots farther afield for those of you who either have a bit more time in our fabulous metropolis – or for you local readers who are looking for something new to visit.

So, the Seaport! This is an up and coming neighborhood – formerly a wasteland of wharves and factories, it’s now one of the hottest properties in the city. That means there’s plenty of options for food and great sites to explore once you’ve had your fill of comics culture. We’ll start off with eats, because no one wants to live on convention hall food – do they?

 

RESTAURANTS

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Photo credit: Hub Nightlife

Lucky’s Lounge
355 Congress St, Boston, MA

The first thing you should know about Lucky’s is that it’s basically unmarked (no outside signage), so pay attention to your map or GPS.  This is all part of the Rat Pack/speak easy vibe they have going on.  Given this, it’s not a bright and airy place.  It’s dark, subterranean, and may remind you of your grandparents’ downstairs.  None of these are bad things, but if you are hoping for patio dining after being at the Con all day, this isn’t your spot.  That said, if you are looking to settle in with pals, drink cocktails, and partake in food that may be a bit splurgy for your diet, this is one of the better spots in the Seaport.  When Tiny Doom went on her Mac and Cheese tour of 2014, this spot scored very well.  For this area Lucky’s would be considered “moderately priced” and the portions are ample. If you are going on a weekend, make reservations, and be aware that this place gets PACKED.

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Netflix Hidden Gem: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Ok, let me stop you right now.  If you don’t care for anime, you might want to stop here and check out any previous posts you might have missed or come back next week.  I am not saying that I don’t want you here, because you know how I feel about you, but the truth is that anime and manga can kinda be a tough topic for the the Ladies of Comicazi (some of us are more for it than others), so I will understand if you would rather look at these cute pictures instead.  No really, I get it.  Anime isn’t for everyone.  And this can be particularly true when we are talking about anime that involve underage girls running around in very short skirts.

Madoka

Cue the Magical Girls.

So, everyone who wants to be here is still here?  Wonderful, let’s do this thing.

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Muppet Ladies: The Muppet Trivia 5 Wrap-Up

MT 2015 Wuzzy

Hard as it may be to believe, there really have been five Muppet Trivias at Comicazi over the years, hosted by different combinations of Ladies. The very first one was a Red Menace project, and the rest of us have taken on various hosting and organizing duties through the years. It’s always a lot of work, but it’s also a ton of fun and it remains my favorite of the events we put together.

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