Tagged: video games

Geeky Self-Care: Holiday Edition

The winter holidays can be a wonderful time filled with fun and surprises and time spent with people you love.  However, it also has the potential to be a total turducken of stress: family tensions wrapped up in shopping insanity all stuffed inside of diminishing hours of sunlight. And you may well get the latest sickness that’s going around too.

It can be tough to focus on self care at a time of year that’s often geared towards thinking of others. But you do need to include yourself in the kindness you’re spreading as the year comes to an end. My fellow lady Smalerie has already shared some general winter self care tips. If you need some additional ideas, read on.

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Alan Young and Scrooge McDuck

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2016 has already had more than its fair share of notable deaths, from legends of the music world to beloved actors to genius comics artists who left us far too soon. But there’s one passing I’d like to recognize here. On May 19 at the impressive age of 96, actor Alan Young died of natural causes. Most of the obituaries I’ve seen focus on his time playing the straight man to a certain talking horse. But to Disney fans, he was and ever shall be the voice of Scrooge McDuck.

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Backseat Gaming Challenge 2: In Which My Boyfriend is Toast

Note: This is part two in a series where I am choosing games for my boyfriend and I to review together – he plays, I watch, we both write stuff.  His comments are in bold. If you are looking for part one, feel free to check it out here.

i-am-bread

At first I thought this could be a fun kinda game, like Surgeon Simulator but . . . read on.”

I Am Bread (IAB) is a game with a very simple premise: bread wants to be toast, and the more delicious the toast it may be, the closer each dreamy-eyed piece of toast is to reaching its own personal carb-rich nirvana.  Or something like that.  In other words, you play as a piece of bread and in every level you need to find more complex ways of toasting yourself without becoming wet, covered in bugs, and completely inedible.

So toast, um . . .Yeah. The game also rewards you if you are able to crash into various jams and jars to make yourself more edible and tasty, but most of the time trying to get them proves to be more trouble than it’s worth. Also I don’t really like jam on my toast so I let my disdain for anything other than butter keep me from getting the highest score possible. The better, more yummy stuff you spread on yourself and the quicker you toast the bread, the higher the score.

As I watched the trailer for this game, I got excited.  I had visions of hilarious Rube-Goldberg type puzzles in an ever more complex quest for perfect toast.  The boy and I would chortle heartily as we nibbled on delicate toast points and shared deep conversations about the art of perfect toast making, teasing each other affectionately about proper toast “doneness” and butter ratios.  The reality ended up much much different, much sadder, and with significantly less toast.

Actually, the puzzles are clever in that there is often more than one option to get toasted. At one point, while I was struggling to figure out how to reach a light bulb in one part of the game, my conversation with Smal with something like this:

Boy – Ugh, isn’t there any easier way to toast this bread?

Smal – How about if you use the straightening iron on that table?

Boy  – What?!?!?! That’ll never work. It doesn’t get hot enough!

Smal – Oh believe me, as a girl who has tried to tame these curls, it will get hot enough.  In fact, I might have some scarring on my scalp to prove it if you want to check it out… *almost too proud

Seeing how I  was struggling to reach that damn light, I figured what the hell?  If she was wrong,  at least it would earn me an “I told you so” that I could save for the next MarioKart match or something (Smalerie note: That will NEVER happen.  I will drive you off the Rainbow Road first…Furiosa style!). And when I reached the straightening iron something magical happened. It started to toast the bread. Of course it required a lot of flipping over and around to get the thing properly toast but it worked. (Smalerie note: Of course it did!)

In the far chance that a die-hard IAB fan finds his/her way to this site, I just want to let you know that I am fully aware that there are some aspects of this game that are supposed to be bad.  I am a huge fan of something being just so bad that it whips all the way back around to good again.  Seriously, when I saw that The Boy owned Killer Clowns from Outer Space on DVD, I knew I had made the right choice in life mate.  But I digress, let’s get down to the actual review.

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So close and yet so far…

IAB can seem very charming at first.  The graphics are adorably old-school and simple.  Play in story mode and you are treated to a story about a man who is seeing a psychiatrist not just because he recently lost his job, but because he can’t understand why he keeps coming home to find a single piece of toast waiting for him.  Lastly, to finish up my list of positives for this game, some of the ways you can make the toast (when there is no actual toaster around) require quite a bit of creative thinking on behalf of the player and that adds another level of game play other than just moving the bread from one point to another while avoiding obstacles.

I suppose if you’re Talkie Toaster from Red Dwarf, this game would be perfection as the bread is always looking to get toasted and Talkie is obsessed with making toast. On the other hand the game has a Team Fortress 2 (TF2) level where you find The Heavy sleeping and have to sneak by him to get yourself toasted. Now anyone who knows me, knows that I really like TF2 and was curious to see how the two games would tie in together after the TF2 Bread update.  Still, even with TF2 involved, it was hard to enjoy the special IAB level because no matter how you package it, it was still IAB.

And speaking of moving that piece of bread around, this is where the game can be excruciatingly frustrating.  We were unable to access the tutorial for some reason, so The Boy jumped right into the first level.  Almost 20 mins later, he was able to get a handle on the controls well enough to drag his soggy and bug covered piece of bread into the toaster…to hopefully die and never darken our door again.  The challenge is that a slice of bread has 4 corners and each of those corners are controlled by a different button.  Add the analog stick, and you get, well, The Boy – wanna help me out with this one?

The controls for the game seem simple enough. Each corner of the bread corresponds to one of the 360 controllers buttons and you want to position one or more of those corners so that you can pivot and move around. For example, if you happened to have a slice of bread in front of you and you wanted the bottom right to stick to a window, you would press the A button. This would than allow you to re-position the bread however you choose using the analog stick. However, if you wanted the corners to grab instead of stick, then the trigger buttons are what you want to use. Confused? Good, you now have the knowledge to play the game. I kinda get the idea of how the controls should work in that if you want your slice of bread to swing from one part of the wall to another you grab part of it and swing kinda like swinging from monkey bars. However you if you aren’t really good at coordination, (which is why I could never make it to hard mode in Guitar Hero), you’ll really struggle with the controls. I could talk more about the game itself but I think I said enough as is.

So, even when I took the time to play around in Free Mode to just get a feel of the game, the movements I was able to make with my frustrated button smashing made my piece of bread act like an apathetic jellyfish with spatial relations issues.  Not particularly fun, and certainly not something I am planning to play on my own either. Even watching was painful because everything was just so slow and just seemed to make The Boy sad.  In the end, I would give this game 2 out of 5 succulent raspberry Toaster Strudels.

Also not for me and not something I plan to play again.  2 out of 5 S’mores flavored Pop Tarts.

So, have you ever played this game?  Love it? Hate it?  Think we should stop loafing around and review a particular game?  Let us know in the comments below.