Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Arcade UFO in Austin Texas -- Chunithm and Jubeat mania!

 As you can tell from my previous post about Rhythm Games . . . my family is pretty into them in general, and because of that, we all were super psyched last month when we found an arcade in Austin that featured some pretty rare and exclusive machines. Welcome to Arcade UFO!


To be honest, if you're used to a giant megaplex arcade like Pinballz or Main Event, you'll feel pretty crowded when you get inside.  It basically feels like a corner shop gas station that's been converted to an arcade featuring two rooms of games.  But, here's the thing . . . the games inside are a rare treat. You don't go there for the fine restroom accommodations (believe me, you don't), but you do go there to play games you can't find anywhere else.

That said, the owner seemed to be a super sweet guy that kept checking on our family of 5 during the visit.  The kids were instantly drawn to a game called Chunithm. The whole family ended up standing around the two Chunithm machines watching each other play.

We were all masked up of course. You'd be a fool not to in these cramped quarters

My sons were absolutely in love with the game. My youngest kept raving about how he would love to have one of these arcade machines in our house. About that time, the owner once again dropped by and let us know that . . . well . . . these two machines are half of the four total machines you can find in the US.  I don't know if that's true or not, but it seemed legit.

The great thing about this game is how you use an entire mini-keyboard to play and not only is it sensitive to finger tap, but it can also sense when you lift your hands off the keyboard and wave them above. Meaning, it has some kind of crazy sensors that look for hand motion above the keys.

The other game we were drawn to was called Jubeats. it features 16 touch sensitive squares that you tap to chase the beat.

There were a slew of other rhythm games in the place, but we didn't spend much time outside of playing these two games. You can see their full games list here.

So if you're looking for a unique rhythm game experience in Austin, do yourself a favor and head to Arcade UFO. It's a college dump that reeks of anime fans and rhythm games in all the right ways, and I'm sure if you got to know the crowd there, you could even join in their weekly competitions.

Happy dueling! 

Happy May 4th -- Knights of the Old Republic

I took some time yesterday to look back at an old classic, Knights of the Old Republic (Kotor). It felt like the time was right, seeing as:

1- Yesterday was national "May The 4th Be With You" day.
2- The original Knights of the Old Republic game was on sale for super cheap at Steam.
3- Jack Nightingale from Twitter had already asked me if I was interested in playing a little of the old Kotor series.

Why wouldn't I play as the guy with the soul patch and a scar over one eye?

Funny enough, I love Star Wars, but I've never even touched these games, which honestly seems like an oversight on my part. 

Anyway, I chose to play as the loveable scoundrel type of character, and . . . be still my heart.

*whistles* HEY THERE SEXY!

Oh yeah, I'm a charmer alright. Those 2003 graphics never looked finer. 

The first part of the game was a little bit of tutorial hell, and it seemed a little strange that the ship I was on was literally plummeting out of space, but the guy who came to check on me spent a good 10 minutes talking me through how to use the WASD keys and check my inventory.

Hurry to an escape pod, but first . . . let's talk about how to move your legs!

After finally making it to the escape pods, the real game started to unfold. I was crashing down on the planet Taris. Taris is one of those big city planets that Star Wars absolutely loves. (Coruscant, am I right?) The top layer of Taris is where the wealthy peeps chill, and as you go down into the lower levels, people get poorer and more authentic -- or "mutanagenic" as the case may be.

The Sith are in charge on this planet, and wouldn't you know it: a Jedi that was on the ship with you, and she had also jettisoned down to the planet in an escape pod. It was probably because the famous "Bastila" the Jedi was on board with you that y'all got blowed up.

The game let me know that Bastila had a history with one Darth Revan, who, by the way, used his/her evil Sith powers to cause a ruckus last week on Twitter because a Star Wars fan was using the name of Darth Revan as a gate check into the Star Wars community. 

Before you knew it, I was out and about running the streets of Taris like a madman on a mission!

Not a bad looking city scape!

It's not weird at all that I'm the only one running around here . . . let alone with two swords in my hands. Not at all! Things *did* get a little weird though when I took on a side quest to help a dancer in a cantina who just wanted to get hired there.

Super Awkward . . .

Apparently my incredibly smooth moves worked and she got the job.

Eventually I went deeper into the underground and the sewers only to encounter a pretty difficult string of encounters that required me to stop and save the game often.

An all together too familiar sight

A life spent hunting for trapped Wookies and stolen swoop pod parts is not easy, friends.  Eventually I warped back up topside and spent some of my hard earned cash on a double-bladed sword and some health packs.

Darth Maul eat your heart out

I'm not sold on this weapon being all that good, but it certainly looks cool!

So despite all the old oddities and quirks, I am having some fun playing this game! In fact, it's the oddities and quirks that seem to give it its charm. Back in 2003 I think I was too busy playing Everquest to give games like this a shot.  Glad I get to change that now.

Thanks again, to Jack for the great game suggestion! It was a really fun way to celebrate good old May the Fourth.

Happy Dueling!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

What is it about Friday Night Funkin?

Back on the topic of Rhythm Games . . . I had a long conversation with my son last night about Friday Night Funkin. Again, it's another one of these rhythm games that he's kind of lost himself in, and yet when you look at the game you're thinking . . . what? It's just some dumb free flash game from Newgrounds? But no! It's more!


That's a successful kickstarter for the full game to be produced, and that also gives you a glimpse into the adoration their community has for this game. My youngest son even had a Friday Night Funkin video of his go somewhat viral and garnered 110k views.

He's playing a mod of the game, and that is probably the core of why this game is so successful. Their community has invented a way to change the opponents and the songs and catalog a long list of mods

Another one of the core reasons this game is popular has to be the music. It is catchy and features a lot of call and response melodies in the voice of "the boyfriend" and his opponent. In fact, the first time I was introduced to this game was during our crazy power outage incident. At one point our boys put on an amazing half-an-hour long show where they just scat-sang those weird boyfriend sounds back and forth at each other. My wife and I had no idea what was going on and it sounded hilarious like they were just making up weird melodies, but no, it was the actual songs from the game.  Kawaii Sprite, the artist behind the music, has them all up on spotify for you to listen to.

My oldest son actually asked me to create a song using "the boyfriend" sounds and some sounds for his woop character so he could make a mod for the game. It was hard to do, but I actually made something for him to work with. He constructed the sprite sheet for it and now . .. the difficult part . . . editing the xml, which I'm afraid he'll be stuck on for a while.

No purple skinned beat box monster will best me!

And lastly, part of that success has to have come from that art style . . . it's a little like graffiti art meets a chibi-esque super deformed art style characters that battle against each other in a fighting game style. And . . . I have to admit, there is one piece of humor in this game that's a little crude for my tastes, but, again, that crude humor is probably part of the formula that makes it an underground hit.  

All in all it's an interesting formula for success in this rhythm game, and somehow it all works . . . and my kids are listening and playing along. 

Happy Dueling

Monday, May 3, 2021

Loop Hero -- Enter the Necromancer

I should have probably looked more closely at the buildings you can build in your town before, but they really only seemed to matter when they matter -- but oh man, this building REALLY mattered (at least to me).

Enter the Crypt of the Necrodancer, I mean Necromancer . . .

Yes, building the Crypt unlocks a brand new class and one that is already near and dear to my heart: the necromancer. FOR I AM THE FRIENDLY NECROMANCER!! HAHAHAHA! *cute dark lightning storm sound effects*

The first play through the loop with the necromancer was awkward and difficult to play. I wasn't really feeling the power. He couldn't use the regular gear that the other classes use, but instead he only has a grimoire, 2 rings, and an amulet.  On the second play through of the loop though . . . yup, it's my new favorite class in Loop Hero.

Get them my minions!

The necromancer is all about surviving up until the moment he can conjure a swarm to destroy the bad guys. His health bar is overlaid with something called "magic hp." Magic HP is your personal forcefield of goodness because you're going to take a few hits while you summon your army, but after that . . . forget it . . . ALL WILL FALL TO YOUR MIGHT!

Check out how full I got this map while I was playing the Necromancer class.

I couldn't place any more land cards down.

It was also while playing the Necromancer that I beat the second expedition boss and opened up the third expedition.  Come to find out the second boss is a master of mirrors that also is a spiritual leader of some sort. I don't want to give too much of the story away, so I won't tell you what he's doing there and why his appearance is pretty important plot wise.

I will say that after I defeated him, a space dog thing gave me a good howl from outer space . . . also, I discovered a weird bug. 

Look at that beautiful game presentation!

Yeah, if you let your computer go to sleep mode while playing and come back to the game, it comes back shrunken like the above. It's highly annoying . . . especially egregious since this is an idle game where leaving the computer should be expected. Anyway, a quick restart fixes it, and you can still play while it's shrunken down like that. It's not the end of the world, and in Loop Hero the end of the world already happened at the start of the game . . . therefore . . . let there be bugs!

So there you go, I've beaten chapter's one and two now in Loop Hero and have established a pretty nice town. I finished 3 more achievements and continue to enjoy playing this game! I'm still uncovering surprises now that I'm 16 hours in.  Good stuff.

Happy Dueling!