Avatar ‘Chicken Police: Paint it RED!’ – mini review

“The sun rolled over for the last time of that week. I checked my chagrin; it was sitting on a fence down by the side of the street that I daren’t walk on anymore. The air was crisp and clear, it kissed my cheeks and promised me more than it could ever give. I tipped my hat and headed on my way.

‘Chicken Police’ is exactly how it sounds; it is a video game where you play as Sonny Featherland who is both a policeman and a chicken. These are very important details. Sonny, like all of the characters, has a human body but an animal head. His hands do various non-chicken things like pointing and holding guns. He talks like a character from a detective novel from the 1940’s and looks like a modern day Humphrey Bogart would… if he was a chicken.

At the start of the game you are currently 120 days away from retirement and Sonny has been put on suspension by his hard-hitting police chief. Locked away in his hotel room of an office, he is visited by a mysterious femme fatale who wants him to work a case outside the law for her client. With curiosity gnawing at his mind and nothing much else to do, he recruits his old partner Marty to help him work out just what is happening on New Year’s Eve in the city of Clawville.

‘Chicken Police’ is a very simple point and click adventure game. You won’t find any absurd puzzles here (see ‘the moustache’ from ‘Gabriel Knight III’ or ‘the goat puzzle’ from the original ‘Broken Sword’) as everything is catered to the more casual gamer. You can look at things, pick things up, talk to / ask people questions and eventually interrogate them after a period of time (where you are graded on how quickly and effectively you obtained the information you needed to progress the story). You travel between key locations on the map around the city trying to piece the puzzle together. There is the main plot to follow but you can also visit other places to chat and procure achievements for doing certain things; you know, typical video game fodder.

The visuals are lovely, like a new summer’s morn. All of the locations and characters look almost real despite the aforementioned animal head looking back at you. This is coupled with a moody soundtrack and excellent voice acting by all the main cast. The story is interesting and varied and twists at the right points to lead your expectations into red alleys and dead herrings.

Where it falls down is that it is a little too easy. There are no penalties for failing to ask the right questions (you can even re-do the entire conversation if you want to get a higher rating), you cannot die and when you are trying to assemble the clues into a cohesive structure the game is all too happy to tell you where you are going wrong and nudge you in the right direction. The dialogue is a little clumsy too, where what is being said by the characters doesn’t match the written account at the bottom. There are also numerous instances of double spaces where there shouldn’t be (such an egregious error). Sometimes you’ll ask questions of someone and then press the talk button only to instigate a conversation that was leading up to you asking questions, as if you were supposed to talk first (perhaps even more than once) and then choose to question them. The game doesn’t want to move things along based on what you’ve already done making it a little disjointed.

These are only minor gripes though. For the 5 to 10 hours I spent playing it I enjoyed every moment. It’s more a visual novel with light puzzle sections than anything else. It’s also very funny and I do hope that the developers make a sequel.

‘Chicken Police: Paint it RED!’ is available on Steam, Playstation 4, X Box and Nintendo Switch.

Avatar ‘Void Bastards’ – mini review

When it comes to video games I am equally attracted to both the box art and the title itself. ‘Void Bastards’ immediately jumped on my radar when I was reading about it last year and recently I managed to pick it up in the sale for the reasonable cost of twenty sheets.

It’s available on Nintendo Switch (where I’ve been playing it), XBox One, PS4 and Steam so just about anyone can get their sweaty paws on it.

You play as one of an infinite supply of dehydrated prisoners who is brought back to life because the spaceship is on the fritz, stranded and floating in space. Your task is to use your widdle wocket to fly to derelict vessels in the area, steal everything that isn’t nailed down, hopefully find some useful item that you can use to smush together with something else to make a better item and, eventually, fly the fuck out of there.

Played from a first-person perspective, as you infiltrate the various spaceships you encounter enemies and other environmental hazards such as radiation, fire and oil which makes you slip everywhere. Sometimes the generator is down so you have to turn the electricity back on before you can start sniffing around for junk. Sometimes the lights are off and you have to peer through the darkness hoping not to trip any alarms. Each vessel is randomly generated, using the same series of rooms mixed up each time, so whilst it can be repetitive you can never guarantee what you will get every time.

Movement is responsive and fluid. The graphics are cartoony, cell-shaded and fits the feel of the game perfectly. Progression is measured by certain milestones broken down into smaller achievements such as making weapons, armour and other items. You need to keep your supplies of fuel and food topped up otherwise you’ll be stranded for good or die from starvation. Your time on each ship is limited due to the small supply of oxygen (usually less than ten minutes) granted so you have to be fast and you have to be precise.

The only real downside, other than the aforementioned repetition, is the humour. The game sadly isn’t as funny as it thinks it is. There’s an enemy called a ‘Janitor’ who walks around and when he hears you approaching he shouts, “Gary! Is that you?”. Smaller enemies called ‘Juves’ call you names such as twatface and dickwad in their nasal almost Mancunian accent. The AI on your spaceship tries desperately to ape the peerless deadpan narration of ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ with not great success. If you can get past this, you’ll find lots to enjoy. It’s a shame though because ‘Journey to the Savage Planet’, a similar game in structure and tone, is a lot funnier.

8 voids out of 10

Avatar Episode 18: Body Parts

Ian starts us off this month with a cracking question, which we quickly ignore and answer a question a bit like it. We discuss:

  • Discarding body parts
  • Robotic replacements
  • Cartoon upgrades
  • Landing on Dido
A Breath of Fresh Beans
A Breath of Fresh Beans
Episode 18: Body Parts
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Avatar Where the things are

You know the things? Some of the old video things. And the old audio things. Not the finished things, we’ve got those, but the footage we shot when we were making the things? Those.

And some pictures. Those things too. And documents and writing and pictures and old websites. All those things.

Shall I show you where some of those things are? They used to be here:

But now they’re not there, because of brokenness and disaster. So now, I think they’re nowhere.

That’s where the things are. Or maybe, more accurately, that’s where the things aren’t.

Avatar Lord of the Rings – The Game

As I have wallowed in video games for the last thirty years or so, it would be prudent to describe me as some kind of a master or genius. I have devoted a large portion of my life to putting blocks in place, shooting demons in the face and running around two dimensional landscapes dressed as a plumber; I am sure we are all aware of the delights of Italian Stereotype Brothers – Deluxe Edition. So what’s all this about, Ian? Why are you wasting one of your valuable posts with this bin bag of erudite chunder? There are tons of video games about Lord of the Rings. Go look for them you sad sack!

And you’d be right, there are, but none like the one that I am proposing. What the world needs is another rubbish one-on-one fighting game and I plan to elbow my way into the market using J.R.R Tolkien’s celebrated characters. I’ve seen the films a few times and I’ve read the graphic novel (sorry, adult comics) of ‘The Hobbit’ so I know what I’m talking about. I don’t even need to change the name because the title includes a bad pun that I can use for hilarious comedic effect.

Rings. Lord of the Rings. You have fights in rings and they’re fighting to become the best of the best i.e. the Lord, that Lord of all the others. And they may get a ring to celebrate the fact that they’ve won and they’re the Lord of the Rings. You get me? Shall I go through it again?

So we nick some fighting engine from another game, slap together some rubbish drawings of Frodo and the like, throw in some backgrounds near a castle and a volcano and then sell it on steam for £50.00. Steam. Steam? Steam. Who wouldn’t want to see Gandalf decking a tag team of hobbits? We can pretend that the ring has made them all go crazy and on the way to the Crack of Doom they stop for a bit of a punch up. Yeah. See? It all makes sense when I’m in charge. This is the right thing to do because kids can only connect with stories if they’re in some kind of media. The books are way too long and the films are decades (!) old now, nobody wants that. I can re-educate the nation through my shonky video game idea.

Chris, I know you’ve never played one before but a video game is similar to a board game but on a screen and there’s no dice.

Also if anyone wants to invest in my idea I’m going to need six million pounds.

Avatar The Last of You and Your Orb

Yes, you read correctly. I cannot keep handing out these dainty morsels for free. I have enough material for severalz volumez and will be on some kind of world tour of books soon enough. I’ll call it ‘The Very Soon Tour of Books Around the World’ and everyone will buy a ticket.

Until then let’s return to the gentle, simple world of orbs. I expect by now your orb will be ruminating around solid food. What on earth should you start with though? There’s only so many times you can discharge an electrical current into a glass of water and throw it at your orb. Eating together should be just as much a bonding experience as reading a book, watching television or stretching some weasels. If you believe your orb is ready, why not try them on a couple of watch batteries? You should not, repeat, not go straight to the C2 or the D2s because both of you are not ready for that. Slide a couple of lithium 2032s their way, let them sniff them and see what their general impression is. If they’re still a little cautious mix a few in with some mashed up strawberries and bananas so they get a taste of the good stuff.

By now I expect you’re used to locking all Velux windows and doors to ensure that your orb does not float out of your house. Should they be wanting to have some space you may wish to move them out of your bedroom and into a room of their own. Even if it is only a storage box in the cupboard under the stairs, their independence is as important as maintaining closeness. Encourage them to decorate their room as they see fit. Help put up posters of their favourite scientists: Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Isaac Newton and other such cool dudes. Perhaps a hammock would be more appealing then a bed? That way they can still hover and be in comfort at the same time.

Your little orb is growing up so fast. What started off as a minor observation whilst over at a friend’s house has been stretched into, at least, four posts on this loose sack of shambles we call a website. You have everything you need now; live your lives as best you can.

You’re totally orbular!

Avatar My Chair Story

So here is a story I have been meaning to tell for a while. It is a story about my chair, a chair story if you will. The entire story is about a chair so if you’re looking for a tale about something else then I would advise you to jog on, like a couple of sea lions, because it ain’t happening sunshine.

Once I was a person without a chair and without some level of warning I became a one people with a chair. How chairs come into your life I cannot say. Sometimes you get given them, sometimes you find them in shops and they’re the right kind of sitting device, that perfectly compliment your own particular exterior, that you have to buy them or regret it for the rest of your life. So there I was, a young man with a chair, sitting like a sitting person should. It dawned on me though that despite the right level of comfort and chair-intensity that there was something missing.

Typical, right? “Oh the problem with your generation is that you are never satisfied. Look at everything you have and it is still not enough.” Whilst that is true, no matter what I did there was something gnawing at the back of my ears that I could not put my finger on. What was it that I needed? A god damn foot stool, that is what I needed. This chair needed the perfect companion though, I could not settle for any old Johnny two foot-putter.

Fast forward eight hundred years later. After developing the ability to not only halt my ageing process but also travel to the far reaches of space in my custom-built Grimmy 101 Space Hulk Meat Vestibule, I stopped getting older and flew to the end of the galaxy. It took a while, hence the 800 years. When I got there though I was vastly disappointed. Despite plenty of signs boasting about this and that there were absolutely no furniture shops, not even a charity shop with thirty copies of ‘Fifty Shades of Gray’ stacked up in the corner. My chair looked even more glum that my poor viso/volto did. I was about to flip the spinsh retractor into reverse when I noticed a rubbish tip at the end of the street. I had nothing to lose so I walked over, fearing the worst yet secretly hoping for the best.

There it was. It was staring me in the eyes (which pair of eyes I cannot recall), a footstool I could not recall every seeing in my extended life. Sure, it had taken 834 years to find it and it was worth waiting for. This the story of me and my chair, my chair story, and it’s also a little bit about a footstool. It’s my chair footstool science-fiction search story. I hope you enjoyed it.

Avatar More of You and Your Orb

Now that the shock of having an orb instead of a child has disappeared, you can settle into a routine that fits the both of you. Remember that you have to get used to your orb as much as he or she has to get used to you. You are not an easy person to live with and people do talk about you behind your back.

In order for your orb to understand how to behave around children and other orbs you may to take them out to a soft play facility. Here, kids and orbs of all ages run or hover around in well-crafted industrial buildings that nobody knew what to do with, panicked and then threw some padding on the floors. You can watch from the safety of the coffee shop, with your half-fat vanilla latte, whilst your little one floats in and out of tubes, ball pools and slides. You will also get to listen as other, more smug parents (more smugger or smuggents as they’re referred to) chunter on about how their child managed to get into Cambridge University based on the contents of their last nappy.

Maintain your distance whilst also keeping a close eye on them. This is one of those contradictions that you often see in parenting guides because really, deep down, nobody knows what they’re doing. You want your orb to make friends without you, ironically, hovering about behind them. And you certainly don’t want to one of those dads that follows their orb into the soft play facility and proceeds to comment on every single thing they do, and then convince them not to go down the big slide because it may be “a little too scary” for them. You’ll get a slap round the man nuggets for conduct like that.

Sometimes a float through the park is enough to keep them occupied. With the sun on your back and the fresh air coursing around your orb’s complex series of gas, emissions and chutney, they will appreciate the time you have spent together. Make sure to take plenty of photographs and decorate your orb’s room with memories you have made together.

If they burn a likeness of you into a piece of paper, put it up on the fridge for everyone to see. If they build a statue of you using pasta and PVA glue don’t go with your initial reaction and throw it in the bin; be sure to make a lot of noise about how great it is, put a picture on Facebook and then put it in the garage in the box with the rest of the tripe, or throw it out of the window of a moving car on the way to work the next morning. It’s much funnier that way.