The Best Flash Games

8 Nov

I work part-time at the Portland Center Stage box office. We generally have a lot of downtime between phone calls and shows. To keep ourselves sane, we play flash games online (and write blog posts). I have become an expert at wasting time on the internets. There are many website to play flash games on: Addicting Games, Armor Games, etc.  My favorite is Kongregate, mostly because I am a sucker for achievements and challenges. Kongregate was recently bought by GameStop. We’ll see if the make any changes to the formula. Unfortunately, I have already noticed a few more annoying ads before game starts.

That said, here are my ten favorite flash games. If you want to try them, just click on the image and it will open up the game in a new window.

Portal: Flash Version

I stupidly forgot Portal in the list of my ten favorite video games.  This game has much of the same humor and puzzles of the original but in a compact side-scroller format.

Last Stand

As I said in my horror movie review, I love zombie movies. For a flash game, this has much of the desperate  feel of a zombie movie. You have to scavenge for supplies, guns, and survivors during the day and then defend yourself from the hordes at night.

Toss the Turtle

I enjoy launch games.  They are easy to pause and are not usually full of micromanagement. Though there are a ton of launch games online, only a handful are any good. Toss the Turtle lets you abuse a turtle for fun and entertainment. Who can’t get behind that? Turtles are assholes.

GemCraft chapter 0

The first tower defense game was Rampart on Atari. Since then, it has grown into an industry of its own (from Warcraft 3 mods to Defense Grid and Plants vs. Zombies). GemCraft is a one of the best; blending upgrades, strategy, and difficulty.

Infectonator

Zombies again but this time you are trying to destroy the world instead of saving it. Upgrade your zombie virus to kill everyone in each of the cities. The game has a great 8-bit quality and a good sense of humor. 

Cyclomaniacs

Like a dorkier version of Excitebike,  race your goofy bicycle around crazy tracks. Do tricks to get speed bursts and earn achievements to upgrade your bike.

Upgrade Complete

This game is all about the upgrades. Play the top down shooter to earn money and use the money to upgrade everything else (the game graphics, menu, logo).

Factory Balls 2

This is a simple puzzle game that is tough enough to keep me trying to complete every level but not so hard that I want to punch the creator in the nuts.

Desktop Tower Defense

Here is another good tower defense game. This one is more straightforward than GemCraft and is all about mazing (as you can see from the picture above).  It has a nice retro feel and reminds me of the tower defense mods I played in Warcraft III.

Hedgehog Launch 2

Another launch game but this time you are trying to shoot a hedgehog to Mars (it is always a good idea to launch animals that are assholes). Collect money and upgrade your launch mechanism. At PCS, we competed for shortest days to reach Mars. Each shot is a day and the record (held by me and Marc) is 2 days. Beat that!

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Ten of the Most Ill-conceived Children Cartoons

4 Nov

We all learned from Wall Street that, “greed is good,” but, in the 80’s and early 90’s, cross promotion of products to kids grew to the point of ridiculousness. Here are some example of nonsensical TV shows tied to people and products.

Cartoons based on products alone:

Rubik

Take a look at the picture above. Did you know it is a magical creature? Doesn’t that look snuggly? Haven’t you aways wanted to play with that cuddly Rubik’s Cube and go on adventures with it? No! You haven’t because it is just a puzzle. Well don’t tell that to the creators of this TV show attempting to cash in on the bestselling puzzle game.

Cartoon Intro:

MadBalls

The concept for madballs is interesting enough. They are balls that look like gross things. You can play catch and gross your sister or next door out with them. That was as deep as madballs got. How could you make the concept creepier? I don’t know, how about giving them arms and legs and meaningful lives? I don’t really want to know what the motivations are for the madball with its brain showing and eyeball falling out. I assume it will just be a lot of screaming.

Cartoon Intro:

Cartoons based on video games:

Video game were a big deal for kids by the mid80’s. Again, along came the cash in express. For every Legend of Zelda or Super Mario’s Super Show (Awesome and horrible at the same time) there were shows like these.

Pac-Man

I love Pac-Man the video game. It is one of the earliest game that I was better than my dad at. Mrs. Pac-Man was even better and I liked the simple storyline you got as you played. But, going back to madballs, I don’t really need to know their lives. This TV show gave them arms and legs (again kind of creeping) and shoved them into a Flinstone-like sitcom. Why was the game not enough?

Cartoon Intro:

Q-Bert

To be honest, I never really understood the premise of Q-Bert. You jump around changing the color of bricks and if you died the hero curses at you. After watching the TV show, I understand even less. So is this some alternate dimension where all of our history happened but to a race of birdos (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Birdo) or just a terrible show?

Thanksgiving clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImQrYCuaN9A

Pole Position

Your in the arcade playing some classic Pole Position. Ever with you could push a button and make your car fly away fight crime? Well do I have a show for you.

Cartoon Intro:

Cartoons based on movies:

Attack of the Killer Tomatoes


This movies is a spoof of the monster movies of the 50’s and 60’s. There is comedic sex and violence. Why would you make this into a kids show? It would be like making a cartoon about Scary Movie. Wait, the Wayans brothers might actually do that. I should say not more.

Cartoon Intro:

Toxic Crusaders

This is a Troma movie. If you don’t know what that is, it generally means a campy, over the top, violent, sex romp and this is their best know movie. Check out the trailer:

Why would you make a kids show based on this film? I can’t even imagine.

Cartoon Intro:

Mister T

Has anyone looked a Mr. T and said to themselves, “he must be gymnast” (I would give you bad ass boxer). That is the premise of this cartoon show. Mr.T is the head coach of the US Gymnastics team and they go around the world solving crime. There are so many thing about that last sentence that I wish were not true.

Cartoon Intro:

Robocop

The original film, directed by Paul Verhoeven, was an extremely violent satire about the future of corporations and national defense. Check out the original trailer:

Why would you make this into a kids TV show? Because of the action figures and video games you get out the other end. It is hilarious how they gloss over the horrible violence commit on Murphy before he becomes Robocop.

Cartoon Intro:

Rambo

At last we come to the weirdest movie-TV show cross over. The original film was about a Vietnam veteran who is treated terribly by small town police and this triggers his violent training.  The violence becomes more blatant and nonchalant in the sequels. Check out the trailer:

Super happy and kid like isn’t it? I don’t know what they were thinking.

Cartoon Intro:

Ten of the Best Political Movies

3 Nov

I am not very happy about the trend of the election on Tuesday (thought Oregon dodge much of it). If you want to escape the current political climate, here are a few movies that are good enough to cure any political hangover.

The Contender (Rod Lurie 2000) What’s it about: The first female vice-president nominee. Great Quote:  “The people of this nation can stomach quite a bit. But the one thing they can’t stomach is the image of a vice president with a mouthful of cock.” Kermit Newman

Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins 1992) What’s it about: The political manipulation of a tea-partylike candidate. Great Quote:  Don’t smoke crack. It’s a ghetto drug. ” Bob Roberts

In The Loop (Armando Iannucci 2009) What’s it about: A satirical look at the run up to the Iraq war. Great Quote:  “Y’know, I’ve come across a lot of psychos, but none as fucking boring as you. You are a real boring fuck. Sorry, sorry, I know you disapprove of swearing so I’ll sort that out. You are a boring F, star, star, CUNT!” Malcolm Tucker

Dave (Ivan Reitman 1993) What’s it about: An idealistic nobody who looks like the president is brought in to the White House when the president has a stroke. Great Quote:  “I don’t want to tell some eight-year-old kid he’s gotta sleep in the street because we want people to feel better about their *car*. Do *you* want to tell them that? Dave

Duck Soup (Leo McCarey 1933) What’s it about: A screwball look at war and the nonsense of national conflict. Great Quote: “You’re a brave man. Go and break through the lines. And remember, while you’re out there risking your life and limb through shot and shell, we’ll be in be in here thinking what a sucker you are.” Rufus T. Firefly

Manchurian Candidate (John Frankheimer 1962) What’s it about: Moody political assassination thriller. Great Quote:  “It’s a terrible thing to hate your mother. But I didn’t always hate her. When I was a child, I only kind of disliked her.” Raymond Shaw

All the President’s Men (Alan Pakula 1976) What’s it about: The unraveling of crime of the Nixon presidency. Great Quote: “Follow the money.” Deep Throat

Thank You for Smoking (Jason Reitman 2005) What’s it about: A marketing star for the cigarette companies does battle with US senators. Great Quote: “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everyone has a talent.” Nick Naylor

The Candidate (Michael Ritchie 1972) What’s it about: A candidate that begins idealistic but slowly becomes more and more like his opponent. Great Quote:  “What do we do now?” Bill McKay

Brewster’s Millions (Walter Hill 1985) What’s it about: A minor league baseball pitcher must spend $30 million in 30 days. He runs for senate. Great Quote:  “What are you gonna vote…None of the above!” Monty Brewster

Happy Halloween: My 25 Top Horror Movies

1 Nov

In honor of Halloween, I thought that I would offer my favorite horror movies. I am a big fan of horror movies and I had a very hard time keeping it down to only 10 choices (as I did for video games). So here are 25 goodies in no particular order. Tell me what landed on your list in the comment section.

In The Mouth of  Madness (John Carpenter 1995) I am a fan of H.P. Lovecraft stories and this film borrows from the heavily. Carpenter does a great job describing the nameless horrors that drive a person mad by simply seeing them.  The ending is a throwback to nihilistic 80’s horror (dark and hopeless in a good way).

An American Werewolf in London (John Landis 19 that81) This movie is a classic horror comedy. The special effects were cutting edge for its time and even now hold up well. This is a classic monster movie on one hand but peppers in black comedic moments throughout (his zombie friend telling him how to kill himself). There is a sense that the director is messing with the audience. Every song in the film is moon related (from “Fly Me to the Moon” to  “Bad Moon Rising”). Great fun.

Poltergeist (Tobe Hooper 1982) This film (directed by Hooper who also directed Texas Chainsaw Massacre) makes all my childhood fears real. From the evil looking gnarled tree to things hiding in the closet.  The special effects are great (especially the scene where the man tears of his face). This movie gave me nightmares. I never looked at TV static the same way. Underneath the ghost story, there is a social commentary about the deadening  horrors of life in suburbia.

Candyman (Bernard Rose 1992) This movie has great atmosphere and is one of the few horror films that tackle life in the urban ghetto. I like the fact that Candyman is more ambiguous character (not all evil and not all good).

Shaun of the Dead (Edgar Wright 2004) As you will see down the list, I love zombie flicks. I can sit down and watch this movie anytime. It is the perfect mix of comedic banter,  zombie horror, and some true emotion.

The Omen (Richard Donner 1976) Before the first Superman, Donner directed this classic brooding film. It is hard to go wrong with Gregory Peck, who is slowly realizing his son is evil.

Near Dark (Kathryn Bigelow 1987) Pre-Oscar Kathryn Bigelow directed this vicious vision of vampirism. This is my favorite vampire movie.

Dawn of the Dead (George Romero 1978) No list of horror movies is complete without the mention of Romero. The original ending (before it was changed to a slightly more hopeful end and released) had the protagonists killing themselves out of hopelessness.  This says everything you need to know about the feeling of dread that seeps through this film. It is also a get mix of social commentary and horror.

Hellraiser (Clive Barker1987) This movie and Hellraiser 2 are relentlessly violent and disturbing. After I time I saw this film for the first time, I had to sleep with the lights on. The film is a meditation on torture and the corruption of  evil.

Evil Dead 2 (Sam Raimi 1987) Basically just a remake of the original Evil Dead with humor (and thankfully minus the tree rape) The necronomicon and the nameless horror if unleashes is taken directly from H.P. Lovecraft. I love the scene when Ash has gone insane in the cabin; the deer and everything laughs maniacally.

Slither (James Gunn 2006) This movie is the blend of aliens, zombies, and mutants. All done with the right amount of gross outs, comedy, and cheese.

The Mist (Frank Darabont 2007) This movie is a throwback to the nihilistic 80’s horror I mentioned earlier. The political undertones are interesting and the ending is so black that I am still shocked they had the balls to shoot it.

Return of the Living Dead (Dan O’Bannon 1985) Zombies again but this time there is a hitch; the zombies can talk and are  basically unstoppable. No head-shot take downs here. This was the origin of the zombie saying, “brains”. Black humor and gross outs abound.

The Gate (Tibor Takacs 1987) This was my favorite horror movie as a kid. . The plot is basically Evil Dead for a teenagers (complete with the nameless evil summoned from a book and a hand that goes evil and must be punished). The best scene is young Stephen Dorff (his first film) stabbing his friend in the eye with a Barbie leg.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers (Philip Kaufman 1978) This was the first horror movie that I ever saw. My parents made the mistake of thinking that because this move had a PG rating it would be mild. They were so wrong. I had nightmare galore. There is a hopelessness at the end of this film that is hard for a kid to shake off (I think I was 6 or 7 when I saw this).

The Thing (John Carpenter 1982) John Carpenter again, this time directing a remake that is vastly superior to the original. The alien entity, able to mimic other shapes, is utterly frightening and the paranoia is developed very well. The special effects are ahead of their time as well.

Dead Alive (Peter Jackson 1992) This is Peter Jackson as his gross out, cheesy, pre-LOTR best. It contains great lines like, “I kick ass for the Lord” and the best use of a lawnmower in a  zombie film ever.

May (Lucky McKee 2002) This is one of the few slasherish films on my list. McKee does a great job capturing the loneliness of May and the inevitability of her mad descent. This is also a twisted retelling of a Frankenstein  story.

From Beyond (Stuart Gordon 1986) This a modern version of a H.P. Lovecraft short story. Gordon is best known for his Re-Animator films (also based on Lovecraft) but this lessor know gem does a better job of capturing the madness that is alway bubbling under the surface of Lovecraft stories. It is also fun to see Jeffery Combs (the mad doctor from the Re-Animator) be a good-ish guy for once.

Resident Evil (Paul W.S. Anderson 2002) In my book, this film and the 3rd one (but fuck the terrible 2nd and 5th) are the best video game adaptation yet made. Unexpected deaths and zombies abound. After reading  this article from Cracked.com  http://www.cracked.com/article_18781_umbrella-most-wasteful-movie-corporation-ever.html I have new appreciation for AI computer that was trying to save humanity from a global holocaust.

The Exorcist 3 (William Peter Blatty 1990) It has become a cliche to talk about the original Exorcist as one of the greatest horror films ever made. This film is often overlooked. It is written and directed by the author of the book “The Exorcist”. The film is a meditation on death, faith, and evil. The original title was “Legion” and was only changed at the last minute to “The Exorcist 3” by film executives. The execs also added a 1 minute long  exorcism that makes no sense in the context of the film. The bones of a great horror film are here and worth checking out.

Fright Night (Tom Holland 1985) This another one of my favorite films as a kid. I rented it ten times or more from the local Just In Video store. This is a throwback to the classic vampire movies of the 50’s but with a great modern twist.

The Descent (original cut) (Neil Marshall 2005) The character development and the sense of claustrophobia that build through this film are masterful. The original ending (deemed too dark for American audiences) is a great throwback (I feel like I am using that word every other sentence) to nihilistic 80’s horror.

The People Under the Stairs (Wes Craven 1991) I had to throw at least one Craven movie in here. This film is insane. The political satire is transparent but well done.  The plot revolves around an African-American kid trying to steal a rumored treasure from a crazy, greedy white couple. Good stuff.

Zombieland (Ruben Fleischer 2009) At last we come to the last and most resent movie on my list. This is basically a road movie with zombies. I love the sense of humor this movie has about itself and the genre. The special guest midway through makes this film.

My Top Ten Video Games

30 Oct

Here is a list of my favorite games. More than just liking the game, these are the ones that I have obsessed over and generally replayed multiple times. These are the games that have stuck with me.

King’s Quest (Sierra 1984) The original version of this game was ridiculously hard (with no map or clearly defined puzzles) but it had a great sarcastic sense of humor. My dad and I wrote drew out our own maps and walk-throughs.

Hero’s Quest aka Quest for Glory (Sierra 1989) This entire series is Sierra at their humorous best. The game could be frustrating at times because some puzzles had weird solutions (like holding up the mirror before Baba Yaga turns you into a frog) and skills would increase only from use. This was my first foray into role-playing. Choose between a fighter, a thief, or a magic-user. This was also the first series in which you could import your high level character from one game to the next.

Loom (Lucas Arts 1990) You may have noticed a trend toward point and click adventures. I played a lot of them as a kid but this remains one of the best. It was a the perfect blend of music and video gaming. There is an updated version on sale through Steam. If you have never play this game, get it!

Metal Gear Solid (Konami 1998) Most people know this game and the over blotted plots that would be its future (though I was one of few who enjoyed the philosophical ending of MGS 2). I was obsessed with this game. Every time you played through you receive a new perk that would help you through the game. First a bandanna of unlimited pistol ammo, then an invisibility cloak that allowed you to walk up and punch all regular enemies to death without consequence. Once you had both items, you were given a “James Bond” tuxedo. It was a fun game all around and the interacts with people through your radio was priceless (snake…Snake…SNAKE!).

Silent Hill (Konami 1999) The first survival horror on my list. There are some glitches with this game. The plot makes no sense (what’s up with the baby I save? Is it my daughter? No one knows). The mazing from one area and back is confusing and annoying (I have to go back to the hospital again). But this game scared the shit out of me. I love scary movies and I play much of this game with the lights on. The sense of dread and helplessness everywhere. There is nothing like tension of hearing the warning of static on your radio as an enemy shadows you in the fog.

Deus Ex (Edios Interactive 2000) It is not particularly controversial to call this a great game. It was on many “game of the year” lists. I come back to this game even now (it is downloadable via Steam). It is closest a game has come to recreating the world of one of my favorite pen and paper RPGs, Shadowrun  (even better than the Nintendo game “Shadowrun”). This was the first game that gave me the freedom to level up and choose my own way in the game. Sneak up on enemies, gun down everyone in the club or save humanity; you chose how to play the game. The three endings were all interesting in their own way. Unfortunately, the sequel was horrible.

Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (Lucas Arts/Bioware 2003) Let me take you back to 2003. The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones had come out and had been vomitously disappointing. Then, out of no where, a Star Wars game came out (set long before Episode 1) based on the dungeons and dragons’ D20 system. There was a glimmer of hope. Maybe George Lucas had not siphoned all of the creative energy out of the Star Wars Universe to line his pockets. The game wasn’t perfect. The turn-based system could be clunky at times and the AI could be as dumb as a rock without micromanaging them. But the story was original and even had a few satisfying suprises. Like Deus Ex, it allowed you to choose how to play (though only super good or super evil). It spawned an fortunate sequel (not developed by Bioware) that was so glitchy it was nearly unplayable and had an ending that literally made no sense (I don’t think they expected anyone to finish the game to the end).

Resident Evil 4 (Capcom 2005) I enjoyed Resident Evil 1 and 2 (I remember some fun jump scares). Then, Resident Evil 3 Nemesis came out and it was a piece of shit. The camera was fixed, causing many a pointless death, and the story boring as hell. It was basically the same impossible boss fight over and over again. I was ready to write the Resident Evil series off forever. Resident Evil 4 was desperately needed leap forward. The camera is moveable, the plot is intersting, you can buy weapons and upgrades, and most of the characters are compelling. I became obsessed. The are still a few problems, mostly involving escorting the President’s shitty daughter Ashley around for a chunk of the game, but overall it is great.  Like Metal Gear Solid, the more time you play through the better equipment you get. Eventually, you get a suit of armor for Ashley that make it impossible for her to take damage or be picked up by baddies. It came out for the Wii but, with the ability to make a head shot every time, it was too easy.

Saints Row 2 (THQ/Volition 2006) There is a debate online between which is better, Grand Theft Auto or Saints Row? I come down strongly in the column for Saints Row.  I feel like Grand Theft Auto has become too serious. In Saints Row 2, you can customize your character and are rewarded for the havoc you cause in the city. Your character is an unforgiving psychopath and there is something cathartic about playing a game like this. The game play is fluid and can be glitchy at times (espectially when you are driving) but never feels bogged down. You are pitted against the rival gangs of Stillwater and must take each one out. The side missions are enormous fun (from spraying sewage on people to trying to get hit by cars for insurance money). The game also had a plot with a lot of “holy shit that was awesome” moments. My favorite moment in the game was the end of a sword fight with the leader of the Ronin gang. The master swordsman hit my sword the hand of my customized skinny british character. The leader said, “How could you expect to beat a master swordsman like myself at a sword fight?” Pulling out a gun my character answered, “I didn’t…I expected to cheat” and shot the leader. Good stuff.

Dragon Age Origins (EA/Bioware 2009) Now we come to the last and most current game on my list. This game has some similarities to Knights of the Old Republic. They are both turned based role-playing games with morality systems. Instead of having a good/bad meter, the DAO morality system only effects how you are seen by the other party members. The protagonist is the head of a party and nearly entirely customizable. There are six different origin stories and each is uniquely interesting. The gameplay can require a lot of micromanagement of the other members of you party. It is frusterating to die to the same enemy over and over because you healer is using all of their mana on healing themself instead of the tank. That said, I have never felt more powerful as a player than I did in the sloth demon dream level. I have never been more moved by a video game than in the werewolf level. The plot in rewarding and fun throughout.

Tell me what you think and what your top ten games are.

Thursday Nostalgia

28 Oct

My friend Pat sent this to me. It is perfect blend of ridiculousness and nostalgia.

And so it begins…

28 Oct

Welcome to my blog. I will be updating it regularly with reviews of video games, movies, books and whatever else strikes my fancy. I will be looking at old as well as new material…mainly what I come across in my life.