Friday, 25 January 2013

Friday Feature - The Curse

Today's Friday Feature is a little different: a video game! The Curse by British designers Mojo Bones (support your local designers!)

I found The Curse completely by accident. I was looking to download The Riddle by Nik Kershaw for a future feature and searched the iTunes Store for "the riddle" (assuming the song was popular enough to just pop up) but what instead caught my eye was the icon for this iOS / Android puzzle app. It featured the face of Mannequin (we'll get to him later) pulling a rather cocky expression (who doesn't love a smug smile and a raised eyebrow? Oh...just me...) and the Riddler fangirl in me thought, "Cocky chap with some riddles for me?! I'm sold!"

The Aim

Oh you idiot! Did you just scan your finger to open the book?! You've only gone and let evil genius and mysterioso Mannequin out and he has no plan of going back in! Lucky for you he's a 'fair' villain and if you can solve all 100 of his puzzles plus his final puzzle he will accept defeat. Be careful though! He's a tricky chappy! You never know when you might be looking at a clue and you never know when you might be being led astray!

The Gameplay

Simple. Solve the puzzles to collect cogs to unlock the final puzzle. The types of puzzles include tangrams, riddles, 'classic' puzzles, sliding block puzzles, logic problems, number puzzles, perception puzzles and reaction tests. The first thirty are easy and then they become progressively harder. There's no doubt that unless you are a true genius there will come some point where you will need a hint. You start with one free hint and can earn more with your altercations with Mannequin (I'll get on to these next). If you need more you can buy hint packs, the cheapest being four for 69p ($0.99). On the basis that I got the game for free and was really enjoying it I was definitely happy to pay 69p for some hints.

The Cut Scenes

One of the things the game prides itself on are the interactive cut scenes. Now don't go expecting 1080 HD surround sound spectaculars. It's a cartoon dude in a mask on a black background ripping the piss out of you...but it's also really fun and what you find yourself playing for! Because unlike most cut scenes you choose how they go. Mannequin is a master goader and will do anything to undermine your puzzling skills from his witty monologues to calling your phone (if you don't answer he gets very upset). He'll quiz you, he'll trap you, he'll try and sell you naff t-shirts and all of it is interactive! Like I said, you don't HAVE to interact with him but it's much more fun if you do (at one point you are challenged to a staring contest with dire consequences to your mobile)!

The cut scenes are fully voiced and though at first it feels a little weird to hear Mannequin with a British accent (I've spent far too long being taunted by Wally Wingert's perfect Edward Nygma whilst playing Arkham City) you soon get used to him. It definitely helps that the cut scenes include The Mannequin's Theme - a super little jazz number which fits his character perfectly!


As regular readers know I'm a puzzle fiend! I love matching wits with narcissistic, masked men (total mental foreplay). One of my favourite apps is A Year of Riddles (which I find very hard to keep from doing more than once a day). Due to this I found The Curse great fun. It really filled the gap between Professor Layton games (it's basically a Professor Layton game without the story) and made me feel better about the fact I've played Arkham City so many times I don't find the Riddler side quest hard anymore (it's gone from frustrating to relaxing lol).

I found the majority of the puzzles easy to do-able. The only types of puzzles I massively struggled at were ones where an action has a reaction such as the below rotating circles game and lights out games (where turning off one light turns on / off the lights around it). Those were where I spent all my hints! But then there were other games such as the Hamiltonians and rope games that were so much fun I wish there was a whole app dedicated just to them! The riddles were challenging without being obtuse. They are the best kind of riddles - ones where the answer is deviously hard to guess without a hint but once you do get it seems so obvious that it could be nothing else. None of those ten line long rhyming riddles which don't even make sense when you know the answer.

Looks easy, huh? Not when rotating one circle moves another!

One of the reviews for The Curse stated that the player had spent £2.18 on hints and still couldn't get past the third puzzle...blaming the game for this. All I can really say is if you're dense enough to blow £2.18 by puzzle three then you deserve to lose that £2.18. I mean, I honestly can't imagine how anyone couldn't solve the first few puzzles without help but if puzzle games aren't for you then it's probably best to give this game a miss - the first three puzzles really aren't hard but the last twenty really aren't easy either. It's supposed to be hard. It's supposed to be a challenge. That's where the sense achievement comes in when you get one right...right?

The Curse's usual price is £2.69 / $2.99 but it is currently on sale for 69p / $0.99 which is SOOOO cheap for such a good game! Snap it up! Seriously! Do it now! Not only is it a small price to pay for a good game but you'll be supporting the lovely guys who made it. Seriously. They genuinely care that you enjoy their game. Tweet them and they'll tweet you back. Have a question and they'll answer it. When I tweeted that I finished the game they sent me a well done! When I said I liked Mannequin's Theme they said I could have an MP3 of it and when it took them a little while to send it they decided to make up for it by sending me the whole soundtrack instead! How nice is that?! So buy The Curse NOW!

Mannequin's Theme
Next week: Back to music...we survive Friday with The Kills

Vote for The Curse for Best Puzzle Game

Saturday, 19 January 2013

I was looking for Oliver Queen...

...and found these two incredible animated music videos for Kathryn Calder instead!


Slip Away

Though to bring this back to Oliver Queen I have bought my first Green Arrow graphic novel! It is a copy of City Walls and hopefully, if I like it, I will be mentioning it as part of a Bat Freak on another DC chappy who loves to wear green ;-)

Friday, 18 January 2013

Friday Feature - BOY

This week's Friday Feature is BOY, an all female indie pop duo from Hamburg, Germany. They have a stripped down, nearly completely acoustic sound which focuses the emphasis on their melodious pop vocals and complex, storytelling lyrics. Their songs vary from upbeat playful love songs like 'Little Numbers' to strong, gutsy, bluesy songs such as 'Boris'. They are something like the melodies of Feist meets the lyricism of Regina Spektor.

Where will I have heard them before?

BOY have been together since 2007 and though they sing entirely in English haven't been really active outside of Germany before 2011. They have toured in the UK and will be touring the USA in 2013. Their album Mutual Friends won the 2012 European Border Breakers Award (EBBA) and single 'Little Numbers' has featured in a Lufthansa advertisement.

Featured Song: Little Numbers (I sing this with the passion of someone who actually has a partner)

Where can I hear more?

You can get a free sample of BOY's music via Noisetrade. Their album Mutual Friends is already available as a hard copy and to download in Europe and will be available to download in the USA in February 2013.

What is their website?

Next week: Something a little different - the British smartphone and tablet game The Curse

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Rail at ITFS

Just a quickie to let you know that Rail, the short animation I wrote for Jack Tilley, will be appearing at the 2013 ITFS (Trixi Stuttgart Animation Festival). Check out the festival here and if you go please let us know what you thought of the film!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Friday Feature - Cults

This week's Friday Feature is Cults, an indie pop duo from New York, USA. Cults consist of guitarist Brian Oblivion and singer Madeline Follin. They have a wonderfully playful sound thanks to Follin's young voice and Oblivion's twangy guitars which they layer with sampled spoken sound clips - perfectly chosen for each song be it an interview about the sin of 'the outside world' or just voices whispering. What makes Cults so enjoyable for me is the juxtaposition of Follin's innocent voice and the dark lyrics she sings - it is music for teenage girls on the cusp of doing something they know is wrong and they know they will regret in the morning but they also know will leave them incomplete if they don't do. It is the sound of innocence about to be lost...and we all know how darkly tempting that is.

Where will I have heard them before?

Before being in Cults Oblivion was in Pascalle and Follin had performed with Youth Gone Mad on their album Touching Cloth. Cults has performed at various festivals and in 2011 collaborated with Superhuman Happiness on a version of "Um Canto De AfoxĂ© para o Bloco Do IlĂȘ" for Red Hot+Rio 2, a HIV and AIDs awareness charity album. They also made this (terrifying) appearance on pre-school show Yo Gabba Gabba.

The video for their song "Go Outside" stars  Emma Roberts and Dave Franco.

Featured Song: Most Wanted

Where can I hear more?

No official free songs, just the one self titled album, Cults.

What is their website?

Next week: BOY

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Zubox: Fashion

I've been groggy with a bad cold all week so it was a lovely surprise to see my latest zubox script is online for you to watch (and then share with all your friends)!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Friday Feature - Widowspeak

The first Friday Feature of 2013 is Widowspeak, an indie rock band from New York, USA. I love them for two reason a) their dreamy sound and b) Molly Hamilton's battle with stage fright. For the longest time Molly couldn't bear anyone listening to her perform (going so far as to record her song ideas for her band mates to listen to whilst she hid in another room) but without her soft croon Widowspeak wouldn't be anything. All of Widowspeak's songs gently pulse along, relying only on the odd guitar curl for embellishment, leaving space for Molly to deliver their scant but deep lyrics and let their meaning take hold:
 Last night I thought of you
Years ago, when bodies grew
An empty home
A vacant Hell
I knew you in the harsh realm
I thought about how it was
I thought about you because
I always think about you

Where will I have heard them before?

Single "Harsh Realm" was featured in an episode of the television series American Horror Story.

Featured Song: Harsh Realm

Where can I hear more?

No official free songs at the moment however they have two fab EPs to sample along with first album Windowspeak and second album Almanac coming out early 2013.

What is their website?

Next week: Cults


I don't know about you guys but knowing that Molly had to battle with stage fright to be part of Widowspeak makes me love her, the band and their music even more. One of of my biggest heroes is Rammstein's Till Lindemann for the exact same reason! Yes - believe it or not fierce Till Lindemann gets performance jitters too! It makes me think that if he can carry off such a convincing, bold, charismatic performance in front of mega stadiums full of screaming crowds whilst scared to really look any of them in the eye that I can try and battle my confidence issues too. Do any of you guys have heroes like this? I'd love to hear about them!
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