Category Archives: Other

REVIEW: Caroline’s Important Life Diary

I’m assuming that the story presented in Caroline’s Important Life Diary ($1.00) is meant to be a semi-serious meditation on the life and choices of a young girl trying to fit in, both within her circle of asshole friends (more on that in a bit) and the greater world around her. The title character is that perfect sort of non-descript type (as most of us are / were at that age), lost in the shuffle of faces  and voices and therefore invisible to society. But the actual story— if you want to call it that— is also lost, lost in translation1 and in some of the strangest sequences I’ve ever played in a game. And I’ve played a lot of XBLIGs; I should be immune to the peculiar.

The format is a hybrid mix of visual novel and simple minigames, with a graphical style that looks like it came straight out of the Atari 2600’s back catalog. With a little MS Paint thrown in as well.

Caroline and her friends comprise a unit formed from the initials of their names, the C.O.O.L.2 girls. It’s not known what the other girls in the crew have had to do to keep their street cred, but Caroline specifically has to constantly show her worth to the group. Her story is told both in text and voice-acted… strangely. Given the choice-heavy narrative, text would have more than sufficient. The decision to voice these characters— with some of the most cringe-worthy dialogue imaginable— is baffling and distracting.

Anyway, Caroline has to take part in various activities to earn C.O.O.L. points and keep herself in good standing with the rest of the club. These life events include spitting on random people walking by, dodging lasers on the way to school, and stealing knives from a store after closing time. Yeah, it’s a pretty odd and edgy life Caroline finds herself living. These choices and minigames net you said C.O.O.L. points (or take them away), which help steer the story.

In various scenes, you can yell at the crowd that came to watch your play, talk to your headmaster3 on the way to a party, ignore your friends’ requests to spit4 on any ugly kid, refuse to go along on a late night raid, etc. That being said, it pays the most points to be a jerk. So it would appear that the game wants you to be an asshole in order to be ‘cool’, amass points and win the game, more than make the morally-correct choices. That’s not me advocating one side over the other, just that the game is short enough already (about twenty minutes per playthrough), and being a dick to other people seems to be the surefire way to extend the story.


Of course, it’s up to you. You don’t get much closure or view towards the future of Caroline’s life, but you are calling the shots in the present. There are multiple endings (how many isn’t exactly clear; I found three) based on your choices and the total number of C.O.O.L. points you’ve accrued by a certain point.

Though why you would want to take part in any of this is beyond me. Caroline’s Important Life Diary is not that important, and isn’t really a diary at all. It’s a bizarre series of scenes and text wrapped up in stranger plot points and bad dialogue, propped up by two or three ‘minigame’-style events that don’t do anything to redeem the rest of it. There’s plenty of indie games out there that do a stellar job at telling personal stories in various formats. Not so here. Caroline’s story probably deserves to be told, but not like this. Not like this5.

  1. To put it another way, the dialogue and story here would be like me trying to be witty and speak the lingo of teenage life… in French. I’m not French, so I’d be lucky if you could understand me, let alone think I was an authority on the subject. You’d probably say ‘Qui est ce connard?‘ 
  2. I love acronyms as much as the next guy, but there is not a single bone in my body that would allow me to form (or be a part of) a group of friends and label ourselves ‘C.O.O.L.’ by using our initials. That would simply be, not cool
  3. The headmaster bit as a whole is weird, and has a strong undercurrent of a predatory relationship. Early in the game, he calls her pretty, then later reveals to Caroline that he is the one who drives her to school each day. Why Caroline never seems to have noticed this before isn’t clear, but it’s not even the worst part. The headmaster tells her this is all because of some ‘deal’ he made with her father to drive her. Which is a little fucked up. For one thing, Caroline has a sketchy father that doesn’t seem to mind handing off his daughter to strange men, and two, Caroline probably needs to steer well clear of her school’s headmaster in the future. 
  4. These girls really like spitting on people. 
  5. Yeah, you’re damn right that’s a Matrix meme, son! 

REVIEW: Oft Horizon: Seascape

Oft Horizon: Seascape ($1.00) is a rare example of when ‘less is more’1 is applicable to my own personal videogame logic. Let me say up front: there’s not much to ‘do’ in this game, no goals or purpose driving it, no great evil to confront or enemies to fight. It’s more of a slightly-interactive tech demo, with very impressive ambient lighting and sounds. A fancy XBLIG screensaver, if you will.

Oft Horizon Seascape - Screen

Oh, but that’s only a partial truth. To be sure, Oft Horizon: Seascape is a marketing push. It’s subtle, but it’s there, meant to get more eyes on Oft Horizon: Precursor, a more traditional game experience about sailing the high seas, with trading, bartering, ship building, and combat. That latter title (released a few months earlier, and also by Gusuku Entertainment) I failed to get into, the game feeling slow-moving to start and the economy of it daunting.

Seascape ditches all of that videogame-y stuff and focuses instead on just being really pretty. It plops you (ahem, the camera) on a generated island in the middle of the sea, chimes and the sound of the wind whipping across said island. You can tinker with the weather, swapping in moody clouds, raging storms, or orchestrating the perfect sunrise, using the passage of time to move it forward or backward and forward again. Also, a poem by Kipling? And that’s it. You can zoom in and out to view your creation, but none of it means a thing in the usual definition of ‘playing a game’ and making any kind of tangible progress. There is none to be had.

Oft Horizon Seascape - Screen2

Yet I like to think of Oft Horizon: Seascape as a viable piece of art anyway, a ‘game’ in the sense that it can be interacted with and evoke a reaction. Or you can just sit back and watch. Your mileage (and opinion) with that may vary, but you have to feel for a developer releasing a project this late into XBLIG’s life cycle, even if it’s one part of a bigger whole which is part of an eventually bigger whole2. It’s still a beautiful but shallow experience when compared to its sibling. That doesn’t mean I appreciate it any less.

  1. Note, this does not apply to pizza, esoteric but still hilarious memes, Destiny, cheeseburgers, vacation time, cute cat videos, videos of people failing at something, videos of cats failing at something, kpop, Taco Bell, and a whole lot of other things. 
  2. Seascape is a small taste of Precursor, and Precursor is a small taste of a fuller game to release on PC. 

REVIEW: Sexy Flight

Of all the undesirable scenarios that have occurred due to Flappy Bird‘s existence as a thing1, the worst has to be the multitude of clones, knock-offs, and cheap imitations that the oft-maligned game has spawned. The better versions have expanded on the original idea and / or introduced new mechanics, while the most egregious copycats have used the Flappy Bird formula simply to advance their own nightmare of a concept, or worse, just to make an extra buck and do nothing different at all. XBLIG had its own influx of games looking to capitalize on the idea way back when, and now, in this wondrous, technologically-advanced civilized world of ours, in the year 2016, it doesn’t seem to be over yet. Cue Sexy Flight ($1.00).

Sexy Flight isn’t bad as a Flappy Bird clone, but it’s absolutely unnecessary and more than a little shitty for pushing skin over content. Not that you’d even know what kind of game Sexy Flight is, as the game’s lone screenshot (see above, and below) doesn’t give away much beyond the promise of not-even-nearly-nudity2, and the description mentions only a vague idea of flight. Then again, Snow-Capped Studios loves a good bait-and-switch (cough cough) something something awful awful Snowfall.

Sexy Flight - Screen... again

Something very familiar about this image, like I’ve seen it before.

Much like that game, the girls are meant to be the main attraction. Here, they cycle through as backgrounds as you fap—, sorry, flap away, and your high score is saved for the duration of your play session. You can watch the always-reliable Splazer suffer through the trial in five and ten second increments if you’re really that curious and / or never heard of Flappy Bird.

Which brings us back around to the central point of living in 2016 and still having to do this. What good can be said about Sexy Flight? Well, it’s just a passable Flappy Bird, and at least it’s not Snowfall. That’s not saying much, but it’s all I’ve got, with literally nothing else to redeem it. So save your money, friends. And your dignity. It is 2016, and we should all know better.

  1. For the record, I don’t mind Flappy Bird (or some of its clones). It’s a (potentially) addictive time-waster, a decent distraction when you have a few minutes… or hours. 
  2. Seriously, google ‘sexy flight’. You might find a listing for this review3, but you’re also going to find much more sexier flights than this one. Just make sure to lock your door first. 
  3. The site’s also under ‘tree masturbation’, if you’re so inclined. The strange things I’ve tagged in a post for the sake of XBLIG. 

REVIEW: Press X to Not Die

Besides the obligatory Night Trap and a half-dozen Chris Antoni horror games, I’m not well-versed in the FMV genre. I’ve never been particularly impressed with them either. They’re usually short experiences, highly repetitive, and ridiculously over-the-top in terms of both storyline and acting1. Press X to Not Die ($2.99) is all of those things. It’s also good, clean, stupid fun.

Setting the story in a nondescript suburb at the onset of a pseudo-zombie apocalypse (the type where you just know the government’s involved… and it is!), things start off with a healthy hatred of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Happening2 and a simple, one-button command, Press X to Not Die3.  That advice serves you well as you dodge zombie-like attackers (also a clown, and a hockey player… in full gear?) en route to various locations that conveniently advance the plot and / or invite you to watch your girlfriend shower4.

To its advantage, Press X to Not Die is readily aware of its cheesy nature and its shortcomings as an FMV game, as well as that of the entire genre. And it is in that self-aware knowledge that the game does best, phrasing its dialogue and presenting its characters all in the guise of a videogame format, giving you an adequate excuse for pressing X and / or mashing buttons to survive. The timing for these prompts is altered with the level of difficulty selected, and the game tracks your ‘score’ based on how well you do.

Press X to Not Die - Screen

Shower scene!? Denied!

To add to the immersion and mix things up, the game’s dialog changes depending on choices you make or how poorly you perform, reciting the number of deaths you’ve suffered, say, or chastising you for being a pervert. It’s a nice touch that somewhat customizes each person’s playthrough, without straying too far from its wacky pace and ‘campy’ feel throughout. There’s even a mode that gives the game a retro, pixelated look if you prefer your footage grainy (which, admittedly, sort of adds to its charm).

You shouldn’t expect longevity (probably 30 minutes to complete) or a hugely-satisfying conclusion to wrap things up (that’s saved for the sequel, natch!), but Press X to Not Die‘s tongue-in-cheek performance ultimately wins you over. It’s clearly a passion project, and with all its clever interactive bits and self-referential humor, it’s one you should happily take part in.

  1. You’re occasionally getting ‘Mark Wahlberg’ caliber acting here, and yes, that’s another rip on The Happening. Honestly, I don’t mind the guy in most other films, but here… damn. It’s just terrible. 
  2. I mean, The Happening deserves the hate, really. I can’t stress that enough. Fucking trees, man. Seriously. 
  3. Which is also.. the title… Ohhh wait… I see what you did there. 
  4. I tried to watch my ‘girlfriend’ shower twice. Purely for the purposes of this review and for science, I assure you. 

REVIEW: The Sexy Exorcist

Everyone needs a profession. If only for that fact that everyone has bills, and those bills need to be paid, one way or the other. Options for legitimate employment abound. Some work in construction or law enforcement, others are doctors or nurses, some peddle penis pills on the internet1, while still others take up being an amateur exorcist that meets strange women in public bathrooms and pulls the lever of a slot machine over and over (…and over, and over, and over, and even over-er, again). That last profession winds up to be the unhappy sum of The Sexy Exorcist‘s ($1.00) parts.

The Sexy Exorcist - Screen

Does that ‘slot machine’ bit sound familiar to you? It might. Though The Sexy Exorcist is its own game (well, being ‘new’ only by its date of release, I assure you), it’s really just Date The Boss with some additional artwork and a different story. Which isn’t a vote of confidence. Both games share a developer (DUALHAZE) and an island inhabited by one-dimensional characters and gameplay, and both suffer the crushing fate of being nigh unplayable and nauseating if playing it in anything more than five minute increments2.

You see, just like that game, The Sexy Exorcist is a series of ‘buy / trade for items’ quests, with said items being required to progress. You accomplish this by befriending the local populace (i.e., girls) and finding out what their interests are via the game’s built-in social site, Douchebook3. The hook is that you’re perpetually broke and uncool, requiring you to constantly earn more cash to impress your new lady friends and meet inane mission objectives.

The Sexy Exorcist - Screen2

This is where that infernal slot machine comes in, as gambling and leaving it all to chance is your best bet4 for making money to buy those increasingly-expensive gifts (oh, you can also ‘guess’ which card a fortune teller is holding up, which is equally ‘bleh’). If continuously mashing a button sounds fun to you, trust me, it’s not. From there, it’s basically on repeat, with only a few diversions along the way, each section culminating in an interrogation / questionnaire by a possessed girl, one which happens to be your only client. Fail to answer her correctly three times (only the very last question is timed, so feel free to cheat), and you’ll have to start the whole thing over again. Oh, cruel fate, what have I done to deserve this?

Unfortunately (and not at all surprising), the entirety of The Sexy Exorcist is a monotonous waste of time, a lever-pulling nightmare that you should most definitely miss out on. Bad gameplay ideas are easy enough to come by, but reusing those bad ideas and dressing them up in a different outfit? That’s just unforgivable.

  1. And I swear it’s not me! The very first email you receive in-game is from a guy named ‘Tim’, a poor soul suffering from ‘size’ issues. Could be coincidence, or it could be the developer’s subtle way of paying me back for slamming his previous games. Can’t say I don’t deserve it. Karma is a bitch. 
  2. Sadly (in this case), XBLIG trial demos last for eight minutes. 
  3. Okay, not gonna lie; that one’s kinda funny. 
  4. Forgive the pun. It was too easy.