Quick Reviews – Videogames

1942 (NES, 1986) This vertical scrolling shooter from CAPCOM is a port of the arcade game by the same name in which you fly a WWII fighter plane through waves of enemy planes. It’s a top down view 2D game though some 3D movements are simulated. This NES port has levels similar to the original but the port has a slower game speed, thus its levels are more survivable. 1942 always feels consistently structured, even when new enemy plane types are introduced. Before long you will smoothly dodge and effortlessly destroy your enemies. However, the game flow is not infallible. Shots fired at you and some enemy planes are difficult to see when flying over land. There are not many types of power-ups, but they hold enough interest and value to risk a plane/life going after them. The ability to “continue” gameplay after death is unlimited (no quarters required) and allows you to get further in the game without having to start again from the first level. Complete the game because you enjoy it, not to view the ending screen. Or you will be disappointed. Overall: Smooth, often seamless, arcade shooter. Rating: 778 [Posted 12/1/19]

Oink! (Atari 2600, 1983) In this game by Activision, you take control of each of three pigs in order to defend your homes against the powerful breath of the wolf. The wolf will blow away pieces of the house until he has a clear shot, then will attempt to use his breath to suck you in to him. You spend your time frantically rebuilding the house to block the wolf from sucking you in. There is no way to win, per se. You are delaying your doom long enough to rack up a high score. The characters in this drama are big and chunky which makes them pretty darn cute. The action is solid and there is a bit of strategy involved but the game gets repetitive, even tiring before long. Thankfully the game pauses on its own after the destruction of the straw (yellow) and wood (brown) houses, giving you a chance to rest. Overall: Adorable frantic action that gets old fast. Rating: 455 [Posted 12/7/19]

Vulgus (Arcade, 1984) In this vertical shooter from CAPCOM, you are being chased relentlessly. Even though some enemies will begin with a predictable pattern, their next moves will be determined by your own. This means you are never really comfortable and although the controls are velvety you may find yourself moving frenetically to avoid enemies. You will operate a twin shooter with unlimited fire that also has missiles that can cut through multiple ships. There are power-ups but don’t try too hard to grab them. Ships/lives are very important since there are no “continues.” You can easily be surprised by enemy ships coming on screen from the top and sides. So you may want to stay towards the bottom center when able. The graphics are attractive with a nice variety of landscapes and enemy types, but nothing too ambitious. Overall: Clean arcade twin shooter in which you are the prey. Rating: 652 [Posted 12/4/19; reviewed using Capcom Classics Collection Vol. 1 (PS2)]

Introduction

All-kind is exhaling. Space is not explored beyond the rust planet. Long lost in their appeal are intimacy, aggression, wealth, sport and storytelling. Curiosity and faith are vaguely entwined in dark, bloodless numbles. Yet, there is a faint horizon. Two have come. One named Eve and One refusing to be Adam.

He: Ares, now that’s a name.

Eve: You shall be Adam. It’s for effect so don’t argue.

He: How can I argue? How pompous of me to want to choose my own name.

Eve: It is a self-absorbing exercise.

He: You chose yours.

Eve: No, it was given as a result of being.

He: Given? Was it etched in the stars?

Eve: Look, you shall be Adam. Not Ares. Not Gatsby. Adam.

Adam: …

Two does not accept this world as void, waiting for death in the heliospace. More is sought and now, by way of ancient technologies, they may have found a way to cajole All-kind off its gaunching hook.

What Does it Mean to Do Math?

Gurps1.jpgThe GURPS Basic Set which contains rules for the paper and pencil roleplaying game designed by Steve Jackson describes an ability that you can bestow on a character you are creating.

Lightning Calculator – You have the ability to do math in your head, instantly. If you have this talent, then you (the player) may use a calculator at any time, to figure anything you want – even if your character is fleeing for his life at the time!

This description seems to imply that doing math and calculating are the same thing. Do you agree or disagree? Make your case.

R-Type

Videogame, Gameboy, 1991

In 1991, we didn’t have a Game Boy Player (2003) to install on our Gamecube (2001) with a WaveBird Wireless Controller (2002). These upgrades make the gameplay of some Game Boy titles, including R-Type, obscenely better.

R-Type is a port of a horizontal shooter coin-op. It’s a stripped down version that plays very well, making good use of a limited color palette. Your ship and enemies (that aren’t bosses) use red and environments use green/blue. The colors and shading pop on the white background. It’s a stark contrast built for the low light of an original Game Boy screen and I love the lack of busyness on screen. It’s challenging from the beginning but there’s a variety of cool power-ups to help you along the way. Plus, you can hold down the fire button to increase the power of your shot. Replaying levels is not so bad when you have multiple ways of dispatching your foes. Enemies are imaginatively drawn aliens or tech and the structure is a common one with stages ending with an outsized boss.

Fantastic shooter with a high replay value requiring critical thinking just as much as quick reflexes.

How Tall is a Giant?

imgresINTRODUCTION TO SCALING – Prerequisite for 5.NF.B.5a/b – This lesson addresses only one dimension when considering scale thus it may be used as a precursor to thinking about multiplication as scaling using a pair of factors.

CONTEXT – The height of a giant can vary greatly. The evidence of this comes from Giants, a tabletop RPG supplement written by Bruce Humphrey and published in 1987 by Mayfair Games Inc. According to this “reference for the society of giants,” there are many races of giants and though scholars have scoffed at their physical impossibility, their existence cannot be denied. Instead of delving into the biology of giants (see Giants pages 5 and 6 if you must), our focus today is on their height.

Fire Giants, 12 feet tall, impetuous and powerful warriors

Titans, 24 feet tall, first giants and progenitors of the other giants

Sea Giants, 18 feet tall, noble and personable giants from the depths

Frost Giants, 15 feet tall, resilient hermits from the icy realms

Hill Giants, 10 feet tall, aggressive and stubborn hunters

Investigate

Q1:  How many feet taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q2:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 foot tall human?

Q3:  How many times shorter is each race of giants when compared to a 60 foot tall sauroposeidon?

Q4:  How many times taller is each race of giants when compared to a 6 inch tall tufted titmouse?

Activity:  Draw a picture of yourself and a representative of each giant race, all to scale in regards to height.

Create

Activity:  Make a new race of giants. What will they be called? What characteristics will they have? How tall will they be? How will the height of the new race compare to the heights of other giants and animals?

Retro Haul: Austin TX

Half Price Books – Anderson Mill

Visit #1 Clearance: GOOD selection – nice mix of sci-fi, graphic novels; Gamebooks: 7 CYOA at $2.99+ in Children’s and 2 Lone Wolf books in Science Fiction; RPGs: FAIR selection, mostly overpriced but found one gem (see below); Sci-Fi: GOOD selection; Videogames: FAIR selection, somewhat overpriced; PURCHASED: Search for the Sensei by Joseph W. Liotta, A Villians and Vigilantes Adventure, RPG Module for $4.21

Half Price Books – North Lamar

Visit #1 Clearance: FAIR selection; Gamebooks: One found in Science Fiction (see below), some CYOA in Young Adult section each $2.99+; RPGs: LAME; Sci-Fi: GREAT selection; Videogames: FAIR selection but overpriced; Boardgames: GOOD selection; PURCHASED: Conan and the Spider God by L. Sprague De Camp (novel) and Combat Command in the World of Piers Anthony by Dana Kramer (gamebook) for a total of $2.89

Half Price Books – Parmer Lane

Visit #1 Clearance: LAME; Gamebooks: None found; RPGs: LAME; Videogames: LAME; Boardgames: Finally a few cool items like the one I purchased; PURCHASED: DC Comics Bombshells Dice & Token Pack, Heroclix Game Accessories for $2.59

NEO Turf Masters

imgres

I know. The name NEO Turf Masters sounds like a game about modern landscaping rather than golf. But don’t let that dissuade you. This 1996 NEO GEO videogame has a great balance between arcade fun and technical skills. However, it’s not turn-based. There is always a timer going that doesn’t allow you to put a lot of thought into club selection and shot type.

I’ve played NEO Turf Masters a few times but not in a long while so, Game 1 was not a masterpiece. The biggest issue was that I should have been hitting high shots when trees were in my way. It seems obvious now, of course. My second game, using the same golfer and course, was much improved and I had some birdies that kept my score manageable despite an 8 on one hole.

Game 1 – Golfer: Technician, Course: Baden, Place: 27th, Score: 78 +6

Game 2 – Golfer: Technician, Course: Baden, Place 11th, Score: 69 -3

[Note: I’m using SNK Arcade Classics Vol. 1 on the Wii to play this title.]